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Lipids. 1989 Apr;24(4):334-9.

Dietary saturated fat level alters the competition between alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid.

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Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Male weanling rats were fed semi-synthetic diets high in saturated fat (beef tallow) vs high in linoleic acid (safflower oil) with or without high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (linseed oil) for a period of 28 days. The effect of feeding these diets on cholesterol content and fatty acid composition of serum and liver lipids was examined. Feeding linseed oil with beef tallow or safflower oil had no significant effect on serum levels of cholesterol. Serum cholesterol concentration was higher in animals fed the safflower oil diet than in animals fed the beef tallow diet without linseed oil. Feeding linseed oil lowered the cholesterol content in liver tissue for all dietary treatments tested. Consumption of linseed oil reduced the arachidonic acid content with concomitant increase in linoleic acid in serum and liver lipid fractions only when fed in combination with beef tallow, but not when fed with safflower oil. Similarly, omega 3 fatty acids (18:3 omega 3, 20:5 omega 3, 22:5 omega 3, 22:6 omega 3) replaced omega 6 fatty acids (20:4 omega 6, 22:4 omega 6, 22:5 omega 6) in serum and liver lipid fractions to a greater extent when linseed oil was fed with beef tallow than with safflower oil. The results suggest that the dietary ratio of linoleic acid to saturated fatty acids or of 18:3 omega 3 to 18:2 omega 6 may be important to determine the cholesterol and arachidonic acid lowering effect of dietary alpha-linolenic acid.

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