This review highlights the inflammatory and insulin-antagonizing effects of saturated fatty acids (SFA), which contribute to the development of metabolic syndrome. Mechanisms responsible for these unhealthy effects of SFA include: 1) accumulation of diacylglycerol and ceramide; 2) activation of nuclear factor-kappaB, protein kinase C-, and mitogen-activated protein kinases, and subsequent induction of inflammatory genes in white adipose tissue, immune cells, and myotubes; 3) decreased PPARgamma coactivator-1 alpha/beta activation and adiponectin production, which decreases the oxidation of glucose and fatty acids (FA); and 4) recruitment of immune cells like macrophages, neutrophils, and bone marrow-derived dendritic cells to WAT and muscle. Several studies have demonstrated potential health benefits of substituting SFA with unsaturated FA, particularly oleic acid and (n-3) FA. Thus, reducing consumption of foods rich in SFA and increasing consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products, and oils containing oleic acid or (n-3) FA is likely to reduce the incidence of metabolic disease.
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