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Favorable Effects of Blue-Green Algae

Aphanizomenon flos-aquae on
Rat Plasma Lipids

Rafail 1. Kushak, Christian Drapeau, Elizabeth M. Van Cott,
Harland H. Winter
Combined Program in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and Division of Laboratory Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA;


Background: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are essential for human health. There are indications that the lipid fraction of blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae contains about 50% of 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 semisynthetic diets: i) standard, with 5% soybean oil; ii) PUFA-free with 5% coconut oil; iii) PUFA-free with 10% algae; iv) 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, an 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.

JANA, vol. 2, No. 3, 2000, pp. 59-65

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