Objective: To compare the effects of supplementing a low fat diet with an alpha-linolenic acid-rich (C18:3 n-3) oil with a linoleic acid-rich (C18:2 n-6) oil on platelet composition and function.
Design: Prospective study with random allocation to one of the two oils.
Setting: Free-living study.
Subjects: Eleven healthy young males recruited from within the University.
Interventions: Subjects were allocated to consume 40 g of either flaxseed oil (n = 5) or sunflowerseed oil (n = 6) daily for 23 days. Fasting blood samples were collected at commencement and completion of supplementation for analysis of platelet fatty acids and platelet aggregation.
Results: The platelet eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) more than doubled in the group taking flaxseed oil (P < 0.05) but was unchanged in the sunflowerseed group. As a result the platelet EPA:arachidonic acid ratio, considered a marker for thromboxane production and platelet aggregation potential, increased in the flaxseed group (P < 0.05). The aggregation response induced by 0.75 and 2 micrograms of collagen was decreased in those taking flaxseed oil (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: This study provides further evidence that consumption of alpha-linolenic acid-rich oils may offer protective effects against cardiovascular disease over linoleic acid-rich oils via their ability to decrease the tendency of platelets to aggregate.