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BACKGROUND - Epidemiological studies on the effect of individual saturated fatty acids (SFAs) on cardiovascular disease, especially in developing countries with different dietary patterns, are scarce.
OBJECTIVE - To determine the risk of nonfatal acute myocardial infarction (MI) associated with consumption of individual SFAs and their food sources in Costa Rica.
DESIGN - The cases (n=485) were survivors of a first acute MI and were matched by age, sex and area of residence to population controls (n=508). Data on anthropometrical measurements, lifestyle and diet were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires.
RESULTS - In analyses adjusted for confounders, consumption of total and individual SFAs was associated with an increased risk of MI. The odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence intervals) for 1% increase in energy from total saturated fat was 1.12 (1.03-1.21) while it was 1.51 (1.03-2.22) for lauric acid+myristic acid, 1.14 (1.01-1.30) for palmitic acid and 2.00 (1.34-3.00) for stearic acid. Although lauric and myristic acids were associated with increased risk of MI, they were consumed in small amounts and most of the saturated fat (87%) came from palmitic and stearic acids, which derived mainly from red meat and fried foods. Consumption of cheese (1-2 vs 0 servings/day) was associated with increased risk of MI (OR=3.07; 95% confidence interval: 1.74-5.39; P for trend <0.0001), while consumption of low-fat milk was not.
CONCLUSION - Increased consumption of total and individual SFAs is associated with increased risk of MI. Lauric, myristic and stearic acids were more potent than palmitic acid.