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Lipids and cardiovascular/metabolic health

Effect of a low-fat diet enriched either with rapeseed oil or sunflower oil on plasma lipoproteins in children and adolescents with familial hypercholesterolaemia. Results of a pilot study



There is convincing evidence that unsaturated fatty acids exert favourable effects on plasma cholesterol levels. However, it is not clear which type of oil has the most pronounced effect, especially not in paediatric patients. The aim was to compare two low-fat diet regimes enriched with either monounsaturated fatty acids by rapeseed oil (RO) or polyunsaturated fatty acids by sunflower oil (SO) in children affected with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH).


Twenty-one children aged 6–18 years affected with FH were enrolled in this randomized and double-blind pilot trial. The subjects and their families were trained to adhere to a low-fat/low-cholesterol diet. All visible fats were to be replaced by either RO or SO (14–27 g/day) for 13 weeks. Dietary adherence was controlled by repeated 4-day dietary records; plasma lipids, lipoproteins and risk markers were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Out of 21 subjects, 16 could be followed-up after 6 months.


Both fat-modified diets resulted in significant reduction in total cholesterol concentrations of 9.4% (RO P<0.005 vs SO P<0.05) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentrations of 12.7% (P<0.005) for RO and 11.3% (P<0.05) for SO. The reduction of the LDL/high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ratio (RO 9% vs SO 3.5%) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (RO 16.8% vs SO 1.7%) were not statistically significant, respectively. In most participating families, a change in eating habits could be observed.


A fat-modified diet enriched with RO seems to have very similar effects on cholesterol levels as with SO. However, our study suggests that RO has possibly more favourable effects concerning cardiovascular risk profile. Both diets appear to be feasible and were well accepted among our subjects. Although these results are promising, larger trials will be required to validate our findings.

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The assistance in diet of G. Skacel and in medical tests of M. Fritsch is highly appreciated. This research was supported by a grant from the Foundation of VOG, Linz, Austria.

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Correspondence to K Widhalm.

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The sponsors were not involved in the conduct and writing of the manuscript. All authors directly participated in the planning, execution or analysis of the study.

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Negele, L., Schneider, B., Ristl, R. et al. Effect of a low-fat diet enriched either with rapeseed oil or sunflower oil on plasma lipoproteins in children and adolescents with familial hypercholesterolaemia. Results of a pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr 69, 337–343 (2015).

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