Too much dietary fat is associated with heart disease, but one type of fat could help to combat atherosclerosis.

Ebru Erbay at Bilkent University in Ankara and her colleagues studied a mouse model of atherosclerosis, in which the animals develop fatty plaques in their arteries. The scientists found that mice fed a fatty acid called palmitoleate had smaller plaques than those that did not consume it. The fat seems to reduce the number of inflammatory immune cells called macrophages in the plaques. Palmitoleate also blocks a type of inflammation that is triggered by saturated fat in both mouse and human macrophages.

The effects of palmitoleate supplementation should be tested in humans as a possible preventive measure for heart disease, the authors suggest.

Science Transl. Med. 8, 358ra126 (2016)