, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 153-160
Date: 03 May 2008

Low n-6:n-3 fatty acid ratio, with fish- or flaxseed oil, in a high fat diet improves plasma lipids and beneficially alters tissue fatty acid composition in mice

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Health benefits from low n-6:n-3 fatty acid (FA) ratio on cardiovascular risk have been shown. However, the impact of the source of n-3 FAs has not been fully investigated.


Our purpose was to investigate cardiovascular benefits of oils with a low ratio of n-6:n-3 FAs, but different sources of n-3 FAs in C57BL/6 mice.


Twenty-one mice were divided into 3 groups (n = 7) and fed a diet supplemented with either a fish or flaxseed oil-based ‘designer oils’ with an approximate n-6:n-3 FA ratio of 2/1 or with a safflower-oil-based diet with a ratio of 25/1, for 16 weeks. Plasma lipids and fatty acid profile of the liver tissue were characterized.


Compared to baseline, plasma triacylglycerol levels declined (>50%) in all groups by week 4. Plasma cholesterol levels were reduced in both fish and flax groups by 27% and 36%, respectively, as compared to controls at endpoint. The levels of EPA and DHA in liver phospholipids were significantly increased in both fish and flax groups as compared to the control group, with more profound increases in the fish group. Arachidonic acid levels were similarly decreased in the liver tissues from both fish and flax groups as compared to controls.


Our data suggest that health benefits may be achieved by lowering dietary n-6:n-3 FA even in a high fat diet medium.

Sources of financial support: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation