Objective: To study the effect of a diet rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), from high-oleic sunflower oil (HOSO) and olive oil, on plasma lipids, erythrocyte membrane lipids (including fatty acid composition) and blood pressure of hypertensive (normocholesterolaemic or hypercholesterolaemic) women.
Methods: There were 16 participants who were hypertensive women aged 56.2 +/- 5.4 years. The participants ate a diet enriched with HOSO or olive oil for two 4-week periods with a 4-week washout period before starting the second type of MUFA diet. At entry and during study of each diet, plasma lipids and apolipoproteins were measured by conventional enzymatic methods. Erythrocyte membrane lipid and fatty acid compositions were analysed by means of the latroscan thin-layer chromatography/flame ionization detection technique and by gas chromatography, respectively. Blood pressure was also measured. The statistical analysis was conducted by using Student's two-tailed paired t-test.
Results: In both groups of hypertensive patients, there was a significant increase in plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration after the HOSO or olive oil diets, with regard to baseline. Additionally, a significant decrease in plasma HDL2 cholesterol concentration and an increase in plasma HDL3 cholesterol concentration were evident. The membrane free-cholesterol concentration increased significantly and the phospholipid concentration decreased significantly in erythrocytes after the olive oil diet, though both MUFA diets produced a significant decrease in the concentration of membrane esterified cholesterol. Therefore, the molar ratio of cholesterol to phospholipids was raised significantly in the erythrocyte membrane of hypertensive women after the dietary olive oil, but not after the HOSO diet. In the hypertensive and normo-cholesterolaemic group the HOSO diet significantly increased the content in the erythrocyte membrane of oleic, eicosenoic, arachidonic and docosapentaenoic acids, whereas the olive oil diet increased the content of palmitoleic acid and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 family besides, compared with baseline. A significant decrease in linoleic acid was also evident. In the hypertensive and hypercholesterolaemic group, the HOSO diet resulted in significant increases in palmitoleic, oleic, eicosenoic and behenic acids, whereas the olive oil diet enhanced the content of arachidonic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids besides, with respect to baseline. In addition, there was a significant decrease in stearic acid, but only after dietary olive oil was there a decrease in linoleic acid. The most important differences between the two MUFA diets were the increase in n-3 fatty acids and the decrease in the n-6; n-3 fatty acids ratio after dietary olive oil in the erythrocyte membranes of hypertensive patients. Interestingly, a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressures was only evident after the ingestion of olive oil.
Conclusion: These data suggest that the beneficial effects of dietary olive oil on the plasma lipids and lipoprotein profile, lipid and fatty acid composition of erythrocyte membrane, and blood pressure in women with untreated essential hypertension are not found equally for the HOSO-rich diet, despite both vegetable oils providing a similar concentration of MUFA.