, Volume 38, Issue 12, pp 1237-1247

Comparative health effects of margarines fortified with plant sterols and stanols on a rat model for hemorrhagic stroke

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There is increased acceptance of fortifying habitual foods with plant sterols and their saturated derivatives, stanols, at levels that are considered safe. These sterols and stanols are recognized as potentially effective dietary components for lowering plasma total and LDL cholesterol. Our previous studies have shown that daily consumption of plant sterols promotes strokes and shortens the life span of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive (SHRSP) rats. These studies question the safety of plant sterol additives. The present study was performed to determine whether a large intake of plant stanols would cause nutritional effects similar to those seen with plant sterols in SHRSP rats. Young SHRSP rats (aged 26–29 d) were fed semipurified diets containing commercial margarines fortified with either plant stanols (1.1 g/100 g diet) or plant sterols (1.4 g/100 g diet). A reference group of SHRSP rats was fed a soybean oil diet (0.02 g plant sterols/100 g diet and no plant stanols). Compared to soybean oil, both plant stanol and plant sterol margarines significantly (P<0.05) reduced the life span of SHRSP rats. At the initial stages of feeding, there was no difference in the survival rates between the two margarine groups, but after approximately 50 d of feeding, the plant stanol group had a slightly, but significantly (P<0.05), lower survival rate. Blood and tissue (plasma, red blood cells, liver, and kidney) concentrations of plant sterols in the plant sterol margarine group were three to four times higher than the corresponding tissue concentrations of plant stanols in the plant stanol group. The deformability of red blood cells and the platelet count of SHRSP rats fed, the plant sterol margarine were significantly (P<0.05) lower than those of the plant stanol margarine and soybean oil groups at the end of the study. These parameters did not differ between the soybean oil and plant stanol margarine groups. These results suggest that, at the levels tested in the present study, plant stanols provoke hemorrhagic stroke in SHRSP rats to a slightly greater extent than plant sterols. The results also suggest that the mechanism by which plant stanols shorten the life span of SHRSP rat might differ from that of plant sterols.