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J Nutr. 1990 Jul;120(7):659-67.

Evidence that polyunsaturated lecithin induces a reduction in plasma cholesterol level and favorable changes in lipoprotein composition in hypercholesterolemic rats.

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  • 1Istituto Nazionale della Nutrizione, Rome, Italy.


For 30 d adult rats were fed a hypercholesterolemic (H) diet (25% saturated fat, 1% cholesterol and 0.5% cholic acid) containing different amounts of saponins (1% or 0.2%) and/or purified polyunsaturated lecithin (2.5% or 0.7%). Lecithin induced a striking reduction in the plasma levels of very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), intermediate density lipoprotein (IDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as well as an increase in the level of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Saponins had only a very slight effect in lowering the level of VLDL cholesterol. Apoprotein A-I was unexpectedly present in VLDL, IDL and LDL after feeding rats the H diet and disappeared only after lecithin feeding. The activity of plasma lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase was higher when the two lecithin diets were fed than when the other diets were fed. Fecal excretion of neutral sterols was unmodified by the various diets whereas acid steroid excretion increased after lecithin feeding. Saponins, when added with lecithin to the diet, reduced the beneficial effect of lecithin. The results indicate that polyunsaturated lecithin induced a reduction in plasma cholesterol, possibly through an increased formation of HDL particles.

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