Influence of α-linolenic acid and fish-oil on markers of cardiovascular risk in subjects with an atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype


      We tested the hypothesis that dietary α-linolenic acid (ALA) can exert effects on markers of cardiovascular risk similar to that produced by its longer chain counterparts in fish-oil. A dietary intervention study was undertaken to examine the effects of an ALA-enriched diet in 57 men expressing an atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype (ALP). Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three diets enriched either with flaxseed oil (FXO: high ALA, n = 21), sunflower oil (SO: high linoleic acid, n = 17), or SO with fish-oil (SOF n = 19) for 12 weeks, resulting in dietary intake ratios of n-6:n-3 PUFA of 0.5, 27.9 and 5.2, respectively. The relative abundance of ALA and EPA in erythrocyte membranes increased on the FXO diet (p < 0.001), whereas both EPA and DHA increased after fish-oil (p < 0.001). There were significant decreases in total plasma cholesterol within (FXO −12.3%, p = 0.001; SOF −7.6%, p = 0.014; SO −7.3%, p = 0.033) and between diets (p = 0.019), and decreases within diets after 12 weeks for HDL cholesterol on flaxseed oil (FXO −10%, p = 0.009), plasma TG (−23%, p < 0.001) and small, dense LDL (−22% p = 0.003) in fish-oil. Membrane DHA levels were inversely associated with the changes in plasma TG (p = 0.001) and small, dense LDL (p < 0.05) after fish-oil. In conclusion, fish-oil produced predictable changes in plasma lipids and small, dense LDL (sdLDL) that were not reproduced by the ALA-enriched diet. Membrane DHA levels appeared to be an important determinant of these fish-oil-induced effects.


      ALA (α-Linolenic acid), FXO (Flaxseed oil), SO (Sunflower oil diet), SOF (Sunflower+fish-oil diet), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (Docosahexanoic acid), LA (Linoleic acid), PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids), LCP (Very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids)


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