Effect of a salmon diet on the distribution of plasma lipoproteins and apolipoproteins in normolipidemic adult men


The effects of n−3 fatty acids on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and apoproteins have usually been studied in humans after feeding of purified fish oil. This study describes the effect of a natural diet, containing salmon as the source of n−3 fatty acids, on these parameters as compared to a diet very low in n−3 fatty acids. The subjects were nine normolipidemic, healthy males who were confined to a nutrition suite for 100 days. During the first 20 days of the study the participants were given a stabilization diet consisting of 55% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 30% fat. The n−3 content of this diet was less than 1%, and it contained no 20- or 22-carbon n−3 fatty acids. After the stabilization period the men were split into two groups, one group continued on the stabilization diet while the other received the salmon diet that contained approximately 2.1 energy percent (En%) of calories from 20- and 22-carbon n−3 fatty acids. Both diets contained equal amounts of n−6 fatty acids. This regime continued for 40 days, then the two groups switched diets for the remainder of the study. Plasma triglycerides were lowered significantly (p<0.01) and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) was significantly elevated (p<0.01) after the men consumed the salmon diet for 40 days. The very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) were lowered, but the trend did not reach statistical significance during the intervention period. The total plasma cholesterol, total low density lipoprotein (LDL) and the total high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels were not influenced by the salmon diet. Within the HDL fraction, however, the larger HDL2 subfractions were significantly elevated (p<0.002), and the smaller, more dense HDL3 was lowered (p<0.002) by the salmon diet. These significant changes were detected by analytic ultracentrifugation and confirmed by gradient gel electrophoresis. Analysis of the apolipoproteins (apo) AI, AII, B, and E, and Lp(a) indicated only significant lowering of apoAI, consistent with the increased HDL2, which is higher in cholesterol but lower in the major HDL apolipoprotein, apoAI. Thus, the purported beneficial cardiovascular effects of consumption of n−3 fatty acids by humans may, in part, be attributable to changes in the HDL distribution,i.e., the lowering of the more dense HDL3 and the elevation of the larger, less dense HDL2.

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analytic ultracentrifugation




energy percent


gradient gel electrophoresis


high density lipoprotein


high density lipoprotein cholesterol


intermediate density lipoprotein


low density lipoprotein


low density lipoprotein cholesterol


very low density lipoprotein


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Correspondence to Frank T. Lindgren.

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Lindgren, F.T., Adamson, G.L., Shore, V.G. et al. Effect of a salmon diet on the distribution of plasma lipoproteins and apolipoproteins in normolipidemic adult men. Lipids 26, 97–101 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02544001

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  • High Density Lipoprotein
  • Salmon Diet
  • High Density Lipoprotein Fraction
  • Stabilization Diet
  • High Density Lipoprotein Subfractions