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Physiol Behav. 1996 Sep;60(3):1039-42.

Short-term consumption of a diet rich in fat decreases anxiety response in adult male rats.

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Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans 70112, USA.


Short- and long-term changes in the composition of dietary macronutrients [protein (P), carbohydrate (C), and fat (F)] alter neurochemistry and behavior in animals. We examined whether short-term intake of a diet rich in P, C, or F affected their anxiety response (AR). AR of Sprague-Dawley rats was measured in an elevated plus maze. Rats were placed in the black compartment facing the wall opposite the aperture, and the time (max. 360 s) it took to enter the white compartment with all four paws was noted. Rats were fed Purina chow and tap water unless otherwise indicated. On repeated testing (three times on the same day) AR increased and, consequently, most rats spent the entire 360 s in the dark. Whereas most rats exhibited low anxiety response in trial 1, which increased during successive trials (low-high group), some exhibited high initial anxiety that remained unchanged (high-high group). To determine whether macronutrients may alter AR, groups of low-high and high-high rats were tested three times on the same day and then put on a P, C, or F diet for 7 days. On day 8, they were again tested for AR in a single trial and the results compared with those of the third trial of the previous test (preC: 302 +/- 39, post-C: 294 +/- 42, p > 0.05; pre-P: 305 +/- 35, post-P: 297 +/- 43, p > 0.05; pre-F: 321 +/- 17, post-F: 241 +/- 24sec, p = 0.009; n = 30; mean +/- SEM). The results show that a diet rich in F, but not P or C, decreases AR in rats.

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