Objective: We investigated the antioxidant potential and hypocholesterolemic effects of acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp ingestion in rats fed a standard or hypercholesterolemic diet.
Methods: Female Fischer rats were fed a standard AIN-93 M diet (control) or a hypercholesterolemic diet that contained 25% soy oil and 1% cholesterol. The test diet was supplemented with 2% acai pulp (dry wt/wt) for control (group CA) and hypercholesterolemic rats (group HA) for 6 wk. At the end of the experimental period, rats were sacrificed and the blood and livers were collected. To evaluate the effect of acai consumption, levels of protein carbonyl and sulfhydryl groups, superoxide dismutase and paraoxonase activities, and lipid profiles of the sera were measured.
Results: Animals that were fed the hypercholesterolemic diet presented increased levels of total and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Supplementing the diet of this group with acai caused a hypocholesterolemic effect by reducing total and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Serum levels of carbonyl proteins and total, free, and protein sulfhydryl groups were reduced by acai ingestion in animals receiving the standard or hypercholesterolemic diet. Acai supplementation induced a significant reduction in superoxide dismutase activity only in the hypercholesterolemic rats, indicating an association between diet and acai treatment. Also, acai supplementation increased paraoxonase activity in the CA and HA groups.
Conclusion: These results suggest that the consumption of acai improves antioxidant status and has a hypocholesterolemic effect in an animal model of dietary-induced hypercholesterolemia.
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