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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;54(10):768-73.

Serum fatty acid, lipid profile and dietary intake of Hong Kong Chinese omnivores and vegetarians.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.



To examine the serum fatty acid and lipid profiles and dietary intake of Hong Kong Chinese omnivores and vegetarians with respect to cardiovascular health.


Random population survey stratified by age and sex.


One-hundred and ninety-four omnivore subjects (81 men, 113 women) age 25-70 y, and 60 ovo-lacto-vegetarian adults (15 men, 45 women) age 30-55 y.


Nutrient quantitation was by a food frequency method. Serum fatty acids were analysed by gas chromatography, and serum lipid by standard laboratory methods.


Compared with omnivores, vegetarians had higher serum concentrations of polyunsaturated (PUFA) and monosaturated fatty acids (MUFA), and lower saturated fatty acids (SFA), long chain omega-3 and trans fatty acids (TFA). They also had lower serum cholesterol and higher apoA-1 concentrations, but the LDL/HDL ratio was not different. The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids intake was higher in vegetarians. Compared with results from populations with higher incidences of coronary heart disease, while lower myristic and palmitic acid concentrations and higher eicosapentaneoic (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) may partly account for the difference in incidence, linoleic acid concentration was higher. Although the Chinese vegetarian diet may be beneficial for heart health in that antioxidant and fibre intakes are higher and saturated fat lower, the low EPA and DHA due to omission from dietary source and suppressed formation by high linoleic acid level, and the presence of TFA in the diet, may exert an opposite effect.


There are some favourable features in the serum fatty acid profile in the Hong Kong Chinese population with respect to cardiovascular health, but the consumption of TFA is of concern. The Chinese vegetarian diet also contains some adverse features.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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