, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 549–557 | Cite as

The Digestibility and Accumulation of Dietary Phytosterols in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) Smolt Fed Diets with Replacement Plant Oils

  • Matthew R. Miller
  • Peter D. Nichols
  • Chris G. Carter
Original Article


Phytosterols occur in high concentration in canola (Brassica napus L.) and other vegetable oils such as from the borage plant Echium (Echium plantagineum L.). We investigated if Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) digest and accumulate dietary phytosterols in significant amounts in muscle and liver. Phytosterols are lipid soluble, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in humans. We aimed to determine if fatty fish, such as salmon, can be used as a delivery source of this functional food component. Three diets containing canola oil (CO), Echium oil (EO) and fish oil (FO) were fed to Atlantic salmon smolt over 9 weeks. The digestibility of natural abundances of phytosterols by Atlantic salmon was poor compared to cholesterol. However, phytosterols accumulated in liver and muscle of fish. Significantly increased concentrations of 24-methylenecholesterol, campesterol, β-sitosterol and total phytosterol occurred in livers of EO fed fish compared to FO fed fish. Campesterol concentrations increased in CO fed fish compared to the FO fed fish. We demonstrated that natural abundances of dietary phytosterols are digested by and accumulated in liver and white muscle of Atlantic salmon smolt. However, phytosterol levels in salmon muscle will not be a major source of phytosterols in human diets and would not be expected to significantly effect human cardiovascular health.


Replacement oil Fatty acids Phytosterols Canola oil Echium oil Sitosterol Vegetable oil Fish oil 



Apparent digestibility coefficients


α-Linolenic acid


One-way analysis of variance




Coronary heart disease


Carboxymethyl cellulose


Dry matter


Fatty acid(s)


Gas chromatography


Gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy


Long chain (≥C20)


Low-density lipoprotein


Polychlorinated biphenyls


Polyunsaturated fatty acid(s)


Stearidonic acid


Standard error




Thin layer chromatography–flame ionised detection


Total lipid extract


Trace amounts


Omega 3


Omega 3 long chain (≥C20)-polyunsaturated fatty acid(s)


Omega 6


Wet weight



The authors gratefully acknowledge Keith Irwin and Nafisa Priti Sanga for technical assistance at UTAS, Danny Holdsworth for management of the CSIRO GC–MS facility, Rhys Hauler at Skretting Australia for the supply of feed ingredients and Springfield fisheries hatchery for the supply of fish.


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew R. Miller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter D. Nichols
    • 2
  • Chris G. Carter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Aquaculture, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries InstituteUniversity of TasmaniaLauncestonAustralia
  2. 2.School of AquacultureCSIRO Food Futures Flagship and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchHobartAustralia

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