AbstractWeanling male rats were fed semipurified diets containing 20% protein derived from casein, soy protein, or wheat gluten for 5 weeks. The fat source was 2% safflower oil (containing 79.4% 18:2n-6). In comparison with the casein-fed rats, the growth rate of rats fed plant proteins was slower, particularly that of rats fed the wheat gluten diet. The plasma cholesterol levels were significantly lower in rats fed wheat gluten than in those fed the other dietary protein regimens. The fatty acid compositions of plasma and liver lipids were also examined. The ratios of 16:1/16:0, 18:1/18:0 and 20:4n-6/18:2n-6 in both plasma and liver phospholipids and cholesteryl esters were consistently reduced in animals fed plant protein suggesting a reduced activity of fatty acid desaturation. The reduction of fatty acid desaturation may possibly be attributed to the low lysine/arginine ratio in plant proteins.
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