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Saturated Fat consumption and the APOA2 gene

There seems to be an endless debate about whether saturated fats are good or bad for your health. The truth is, it depends on your genes. While several genes contribute to how your body reacts to saturated fats, APOA2 gene is one of the them that determines how well you tolerate saturated fats and how well you can transport cholesterol. This article takes a detailed look at why is limiting saturated fat more essential for people carrying certain version of this gene.

From the evolutionary perspective, certain human societies, such as those in the colder northern regions are likely to have subsisted on large intake of fats for hundreds of generations and could have developed adaptations that enable them to metabolize this macro ingredient in food quite efficiently. If you have inherited those genes, then your body is better able to cope with fats intake.

APOA2 gene and Saturated fats:

APOA2 gene produces a protein apolipoprotein -II, that is thought to play a role in fat metabolism and obesity . Individuals with sensitive version of this gene are more prone to increased BMI (6.8 times greater BMI), waist circumference, and body weight in response to high levels of saturated fat (more than 22g of saturated fats per day), especially high fat dairy foods than people with non-sensitive version of the gene consuming the same amount of saturated fats. It is important for such individuals to limit their saturated fat intake. However, there was no difference among individuals with both versions, in terms of weight and BMI when saturated fat intake was low (less than 22g per day).

One possible mechanism that could help explain the above gene-diet interactions  is the sensitive version of this gene produces lower levels of the protein, APOA2 (regulates the satiety response),  resulting in low satiety and  greater appetite among individuals with higher saturated fat intake. This appetite may preferably be for foods rich in saturated fat and this higher fat intake would lead to greater weight.


Simple ways to reduce saturated fats in your diet

  • Read the nutrition labels. Many low fat food products may be high in refined carbohydrates, that may increase your triglyceride levels.
  • Terms such as “ low” or “lite” could be misleading. The best is to compare the fat content of similar food products.
  • Adopt healthy cooking methods like baking, broiling and grilling for cooking vegetables and meats. Try to avoid frying foods. Use liquid oils such as canola, sesame, mustard seed oils instead of fats of animal origin such as butter, ghee or vanaspati.
  • Instead of butter or ghee, try cooking with herbs, spices, lemon juice, etc.

XCode’s nutrigenetics assessment includes the APOA2 gene. You can also learn about this gene and several more with this assessment.  Visit or write to us at

Janani Thiru
Janani Thiru
Janani is a Nutrigenetic Counselor at Xcode, Freelance Writer, Food Scientist and Nutritionist by academics. She received the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Award by the European Commission for her post graduate program in Food Science and Technology in 2010. She worked with Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome and Cambodia previously. Her latest project is an e-book of nutrigenetics she is compiling that will be published next year.