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Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 May;69(5):872-82.

Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic acid on thrombotic risk factors in vegetarian men.

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  • 1Department of Food Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.



Vegetarians have lower platelet and plasma concentrations of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) than do omnivores. We recently showed that male vegetarians have higher platelet aggregability than do omnivores.


We investigated whether male vegetarians (n = 17) who consumed an increased amount of dietary alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) showed any changes in their tissue profile of PUFAs, plasma thromboxane concentrations, platelet aggregability, or hemostatic factors.


During the study, all subjects maintained their habitual vegetarian diets except that a proportion of dietary fat was replaced with vegetable oils and margarines that were provided. Initially, all subjects consumed a low-ALA diet (containing safflower oil and safflower oil-based margarine) for 14 d; they then consumed either a moderate-ALA diet (containing canola oil and canola oil-based margarine) or a high-ALA diet (containing linseed oil and linseed oil-based margarine) for 28 d. Blood samples were collected at day 0 (baseline), day 14, and day 42.


Eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid, total n-3 PUFAs, and the ratio of n-3 to n-6 PUFAs were significantly increased (P < 0.05), whereas the ratio of arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid was decreased (P < 0.05), in platelet phospholipids, plasma phospholipids, and triacylglycerols after either the moderate-ALA or high-ALA diet compared with the low-ALA diet. No significant differences were observed in thrombotic risk factors.


ALA from vegetable oils (canola and linseed) has a beneficial effect on n-3 PUFA concentrations of platelet phospholipids and plasma lipids in vegetarian males.

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