Ann Nutr Metab. 1997 ; 41(6): 365-70.
Plasma fatty acid profile and alternative nutrition.
Research Institute of Nutrition, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Plasma profile of fatty acids was examined in a group of children consisting of 7 vegans, 15 lactoovovegetarians and 10 semivegetarians. The children were 11-15 years old and the average period of alternative nutrition was 3.4 years. The results were compared with a group of 19 omnivores that constituted an average sample with respect to biochemical and hematological parameters from a larger study of health and nutritional status of children in Slovakia. Alternative nutrition groups had significantly lower values of saturated fatty acids. The content of oleic acid was identical to omnivores. A significant increase was observed for linoleic and alpha-linolenic (n-3) acids. The dihomo-gamma-linolenic (n-6) acid and arachidonic (n-6) acid values were comparable to omnivores for all alternative nutrition groups. Values of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in lactoovovegetarians were identical to those of omnivores whereas they were significantly increased in semivegetarians consuming fish twice a week. Due to the total exclusion of animal fats from the diet, vegans had significantly reduced values of palmitoleic acid as well as eicosapentaenoic (n-3) acid and docosahexaenoic (n-3) acid resulting in an increased n-6/n-3 ratio. Values of plasma fatty acids found in alternative nutrition groups can be explained by the higher intake of common vegetable oils (high content of linoleic acid), oils rich in alpha-linolenic acid (cereal germs, soybean oil, walnuts), as well as in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish). The results of fatty acids (except n-3 in vegans) and other lipid parameters confirm the beneficial effect of vegetarian nutrition in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.