Background: Vegetables are major dietary sources of fibers and antioxidants such as carotenoids, polyphenols and vitamin C which contribute to explain their protective effects against cardiovascular diseases.
Aim of the study: We investigated in the rat the effects of a 3-week supplementation of the diet with carrot (15% dry matter) on lipid metabolism and antioxidant status.
Results: A significant decrease of cholesterol level in liver (-44%; P= 0.0007) was observed together with a reduction of the level of liver triglycerides (-40%; P= 0.0005). Fecal total steroids excretion increased by 30% upon feeding the carrot diet as compared to the control. The secretion of bile acids was maintained, whereas the cholesterol apparent absorption was reduced in rats fed carrot diet. Carrot consumption also improved the antioxidant status. It significantly decreased the urinary excretion of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), reduced the TBARS levels in heart, increased the vitamin E plasmatic level and tended to increase the ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) as compared to the controls. The carrot diet provided carotenoid antioxidants: 5.1 mg beta-carotene, 1.6 mg alpha-carotene and 0.25mg lutein per 100 g diet. No carotenoids were found in plasma whereas the three carotenoids were detected in the plasma of the rats fed the carrot diet at 125, 41, 43 nmol/L respective concentrations. beta-Carotene was also detected in liver and heart.
Conclusion: Carrot consumption modifies cholesterol absorption and bile acids excretion and increases antioxidant status and these effects could be interesting for cardiovascular protection.