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Favorable Effects of Blue-Green Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on Rat Plasma Lipids

Rafail I. Kushak, PhD, 1* Christian Drapeau, MS, 2 Elizabeth M. Van Cott, 1 Harland H. Winter1 1Combined Program in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Division of Laboratory Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 2Cell Tech, Klamath Falls, Oregon

JANA vol. 2 (3): 59-65

ABSTRACT

Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for human health. There are indications that the lipid fraction of blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains about 50% PUFA and may be a good dietary source of PUFA. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of diets supplemented with algae on blood plasma lipids.

Methods: Rats were fed with four different semi synthetic diets: 1) standard, with 5% soybean oil; 2) PUFA-free with 5% coconut oil; 3) PUFA-free with 10% algae; 4) PUFA-free with 15% algae. After 32 days the levels of plasma fatty acids, triglycerides, and cholesterol were studied.

Results: Rats fed the PUFA-free diet demonstrated an absence of linolenic acid (LNA) in plasma; however, supplementation with algae resulted in the same level of LNA as controls, increased levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and a decreased level of arachidonic acid. Dietary supplementation with 10% and 15% algae decreased the plasma cholesterol to 54% and 25% of the control level, respectively (p<0.0005). Plasma triglyceride levels decreased significantly (p<0.005) after diet supplementation with 15% algae.

Conclusion:Algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae is a good source of PUFA and because of potential hypocholesterolemic properties should be a valuable nutritional resource.

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