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Poult Sci. 2010 Feb;89(2):270-5. doi: 10.3382/ps.2009-00249.

Effect of plant sterol-enriched diets on plasma and egg yolk cholesterol concentrations and cholesterol metabolism in laying hens.

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Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, Department of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Egg exists as a major dietary source of cholesterol in Western diets. In North America, laying hen diets are usually devoid of cholesterol when diets are formulated to exclude animal-based products. Hence, laying hens meet their physiological cholesterol requirement through de novo synthesis. Plant sterols exert a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans by interfering with intestinal sterol absorption. However, it is unknown whether plant sterol supplementation could be effective in reducing intestinal reabsorption of biliary cholesterol in laying hens, thus modulating whole body cholesterol in favor of lower plasma and yolk cholesterol content. The current study was designed to investigate the effect of diets enriched with 0, 0.5, 1, and 2% plant sterols on cholesterol absorption, synthesis, as well as plasma, liver, and egg yolk cholesterol concentrations in laying hens. After 8 wk of plant sterol intervention (first 2 wk were acclimatization), feed intake, BW, egg weight, egg yolk weight, egg production, Haugh units, liver mass, plasma, and hepatic cholesterol concentrations did not differ as a function of plant sterol supplementation. Egg cholesterol concentrations (mg/g) fluctuated during the 6-wk experimental period. At wk 6, a minor reduction in egg yolk cholesterol concentration (mg per g of yolk, P<0.05, vs. control) was observed in hens fed 1 and 2% cholesterol-enriched diets, respectively. However, such result failed to affect total egg cholesterol content. No statistical difference was observed across treatments over 6 wk. Neither cholesterol absorption rates nor synthesis differed as a function of treatment. Results suggested that overall cholesterol content in egg yolk was not affected by feeding hens plant sterol-enriched diets over 6 wk.

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