One-month administration of hydroxytyrosol, a phenolic antioxidant present in olive oil, to hyperlipemic rabbits improves blood lipid profile, antioxidant status and reduces atherosclerosis development.
In this study we report the effects of sunflower, virgin olive and fish oils on the progression of aortic lesions. A total of 24 male New Zealand rabbits (six per each group) were fed for 50 days on a diet containing 3% lard and 1.3% cholesterol, to induce atherosclerosis. An atherogenic control group (A) was killed after this period and three groups were fed for an additional period of 30 days with a diet composed of (1.75 g of supplemented oil and 98.25 of standard chow): sunflower oil (S), virgin olive oil (O) and fish oil (F). A control group (n=6) was fed with a standard chow diet for 80 days. LDL lipid composition and histological analysis of aortic atherosclerotic lesions were assayed. The atherogenic diet caused a significant increase of cholesterol levels in LDL and aorta tissue. Cholesterol ester content rose significantly in the aortic arch of groups S, O and F. Fatty streaks were found in all aortic sections, although only group S showed a significant progression of the lesion compared with group A. We conclude that the replacement of a high cholesterol-saturated fat diet by another cholesterol free-unsaturated fat diet does not regress atherosclerosis in rabbit. However, sunflower oil provokes a significant progression in lesion development, whereas diet enrichment with extra virgin olive oil and, to a lesser extent, fish oil, stops this progression.