Phytosterol consumption reduces the absorption of dietary cholesterol and can alter the tissue fatty acid composition. The effects of manipulating sterol and phospholipid fatty acid profile by increasing levels of phytosterols (1000 and 4000. mg/kg diet) have been investigated in young Sprague-Dawley rats. Cholesterol levels decreased significantly only in liver, heart and skin. Significant increased levels of phytosterols were detected in all ten tissues analysed, with levels of campesterol in general being greater than those of β-sitosterol. The level of phytosterol incorporation ranged widely in tissues, more than doubling in heart, lung, spleen and erythrocytes to no significant increases in brain. In heart, kidney, spleen and lung there were dose dependent increases in phytosterol levels. The phospholipid fatty acid profile showed some small, but significant changes, but these were not consistent between tissues or for fatty acid classes. Dietary phytosterols accumulated differently in tissues and affected cholesterol levels and phospholipid fatty acid composition in a tissue-specific manner.
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