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Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 2006;35(1-2):245-50.

Effects of low-fat milk enriched with phytosterols on plasma cholesterol concentrations and hemorheological parameters of Wistar rats.

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Instituto de Biopatologia QuĂ­mica, Unidade de Biopatologia Vascular, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Av. Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal.


Clinical and experimental studies have shown that the use of phytosterol esters as a food ingredient reduces the plasma concentrations of cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, not affecting the HDL cholesterol levels. Based on the use of phytosterols as a food ingredient, we have conducted a 30-day feeding study with Wistar rats, drinking low-fat milk containing phytosterols, in order to evaluate the plasma cholesterol concentrations and the hemorheological parameters. Throughout the study, clinical observations, body weights and food and milk consumption were measured and at the end of the feeding period, blood samples were collected for biochemical and hemorheological determinations. There were no clinical changes, alterations in growth, food or milk consumption. In the plasma cholesterol and HDL concentrations there were no significant differences, but LDL levels decreased about 70%. In the hemorheological parameters, significant changes were observed in plasma viscosity and in membrane fluidity in all experimental groups. The blood viscosity and the erythrocyte deformability show significant improvements with the ingestion of the phytosterols enriched milk. With these results we conclude that phytosterols maintain their cholesterol lowering properties when incorporated in milk and can be considered a hypolipemic food component.

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