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Free Radic Res Commun. 1991;12-13 Pt 1:147-52.

Effect of fish oil and coconut oil on antioxidant defence system and lipid peroxidation in rat liver.

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National Institute of Nutrition, Roma, Italy.


Diets high in fish oil containing polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 family, have been suggested to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. However these lipids are highly susceptible to oxidative deterioration. In order to investigate the influence of n-3 fatty acids on oxidative status, the effect of feeding rats with fish oil or coconut oil diets was studied by measuring different parameters related to an oxidative free radical challenge. Synthetic diets containing 15% (w/v) fish oil or coconut oil were used to feed growing rats for 4 weeks. As compared to control diet, the fish oil containing diet produced a significant decrease of cholesterol and triglyceride concentration in serum, however there was a significant increase in lipid peroxidation products. In addition, in fish oil fed animals, there was also a decrease in vitamin E and A concentration. Furthermore, the rate of lipid peroxidation in isolated microsomes was three fold higher in rats fed fish oil as compared to rats with coconut oil diet. No significant differences between the two experimental groups were observed in superoxide dismutase (SOD) and phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (PHGPX) activities. However, there was a decrease in glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activity. These results suggest that fish oil feeding at an amount compatible with human diet, although decreasing plasma lipids, actually challenge the antioxidant defence system, thus increasing the susceptibility of tissues to free radical oxidative damage.

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