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Soy lecithin reduces plasma lipoprotein cholesterol and early atherogenesis in hypercholesterolemic monkeys and hamsters: beyond linoleate

      Abstract

      The current study was designed to investigate the hypocholesterolemic and anti-atherogenic properties of soy lecithin beyond its fatty acid content. In experiment 1, 18 cynomolgus monkeys were divided into three groups of six and fed diets which approximated either the average American diet (AAD), the American Heart Association (AHA) Step I diet, or a modified AHA (mAHA) Step I diet containing 3.4% soy lecithin for 8 weeks. Plasma samples were collected from food-deprived monkeys and analyzed for total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), very low- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C), and triglyceride (TG) concentrations. Group comparisons revealed that monkeys fed the mAHA Step 1 diet had significantly lower plasma TC (−46%) and non-HDL-C (−55%) levels compared to the AAD diet, whereas monkeys fed the AHA Step 1 diet had lesser reductions in plasma TC (−21%) and non-HDL-C (−18%) levels. The monkeys fed the mAHA Step I diet had significantly lower plasma TC (−32%) and non-HDL-C (−45%) compared to the monkeys fed the AHA step diet. Also, only the mAHA Step I diet significantly reduced pre-treatment plasma TC and non-HDL-C levels by −39 and −51%, respectively with no significant effect on plasma HDL-C or TG levels. In experiment 2, 45 hamsters were divided into three groups of 15 and fed the following three modified non-purified diets for 8 weeks: a hypercholesterolemic diet (HCD) containing 10% coconut oil and 0.05% cholesterol, HCD plus 3.4% soy lecithin (+SL), or the HCD with added levels of linoleate and choline equivalent to the +SL diet but no lecithin (−SL). Plasma lipids were determined as in experiment 1 and aortas were perfusion-fixed and Oil Red O stained for morphometric analyses of fatty streak area. Relative to the HCD group, the +SL-treated hamsters had significantly lower plasma TC (−58%), non-HDL-C (−73%) and aortic fatty streak area (−90%). Relative to the −SL group, hamsters fed the +SL diet had significantly lower plasma TC (−33%), non-HDL-C (−50%) and significantly reduced aortic fatty streak area (−79%). In conclusion, the first experiment suggests that the cholesterol-lowering efficacy of the AHA Step I diet can be enhanced with the addition of soy lecithin without reducing plasma HDL-C levels, whereas the second experiment suggest that the hypocholesterolemic, and in particular, the anti-atherogenic properties of soy lecithin cannot be attributed solely to its linoleate content.

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