Polyunsaturated fats, carbohydrates and carotid disease: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Carotid MRI study

Jennifer L. Dearborn, Ye Qiao, Eliseo Guallar, Lyn M. Steffen, Rebecca F. Gottesman, Yiyi Zhang, Bruce A. Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and aims Carbohydrates and fat intake have both been linked to development of atherosclerosis. We examined associations between glycemic index (GI) and fat intake with carotid atherosclerosis. Methods The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort enrolled participants during the period 1987–1989 and the Carotid MRI sub-study occurred between 2004 and 2006 (1672 participants attending both visits). Measures of carbohydrate quality (usual GI), fat intake (total, polyunsaturated and saturated) and overall dietary quality index (DASH Diet Score) were derived from a 66-item food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline. Trained readers measured lipid core presence and maximum wall thickness. Using multivariate logistic regression, we determined the odds of lipid core presence by quintile (Q) of energy-adjusted dietary components. Restricted cubic spline models were used to examine non-linear associations between dietary components and maximum wall thickness. Results Mean daily polyunsaturated fat intake was 5 g (SD 1.4). GI and polyunsaturated fat intake had a nonlinear relationship with maximum wall thickness. Low (1–4 g) and high (6–12 g) polyunsaturated fat intake were associated with a statistically significant decreased odds of lipid core presence compared to intake in a majority of participants (OR Q5 vs. Q2-4: 0.64, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.98; OR Q1 vs. Q2-4: 0.64, 95% CI 0.42, 0.96), however, the association with lipid core was attenuated by adjustment for maximum wall thickness, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. Conclusions GI and polyunsaturated fat intake were not associated with high-risk plaque features, such as lipid core presence, independent of traditional vascular risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts (HHSN268201100005C, HHSN268201100006C, HHSN268201100007C, HHSN268201100008C, HHSN268201100009C, HHSN268201100010C, HHSN268201100011C, and HHSN268201100012C) with the ARIC carotid MRI examination funded by U01HL075572-01.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Diet
  • Glycemic index
  • Polyunsaturated fats


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