The Influence of Dietary Fats on Plasma Lipids, Blood Pressure and Coagulation Indices in the Rat
Abstract Male Hooded Wistar rats were fed a commercial rat diet supplemented 12% by weight with sheep fat, sunflower seed oil and fish oil (tuna) over a period of 8 months. The influence of these diets on plasma fatty acids, triglycerides and cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight and coagulation indices was assessed. The sheep fat (SF)-fed rats showed a significant increase in body weight over the reference group (C) of 18%, and systolic blood pressure increased by 9.4%, whereas other dietary groups were not significantly affected. The fish oil (TFO)-fed rats showed a significant lowering of plasma cholesterol (−16.6%) and triglyceride (−47%) relative to the reference group, while the sunflower seed oil (SSO) group showed only a lowered plasma triglyceride (−32%). Plasma fatty acids in general reflected closely the dietary fatty acids, with some exceptions. Coagulation indices provided a consistent picture of an increased tendency to thrombosis in SF-fed rats and a significantly reduced tendency in the TFO-fed rats relative to reference rats. Fish oil rich in 20:5 and 22:6 ω3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in cholesterol appears to have advantages in terms of reducing those parameters identified as risk factors for coronary heart disease in man. Sheep fat supplements rich in saturated fatty acids produce the opposite trend.