A survey of the effects of dietary polyunsaturates on the function of the cardiovascular system is given. In isolated hearts of rats dietary linoleate supply increases both coronary flow and heart muscle function. Hearts of rats fed high amounts of linoleic acid are protected against catecholamine (over)-stimulation. Polyunsaturate rich vegetable oils are effective in lowering blood pressure in several murine hypertension models. This effect seems to be closely related to antihypertensive changes in kidney function and in the function of the arterial vessel wall. Dietary polyunsaturates augment the hypotensive effect of antihypertensive drugs. Cardiovascular effects of dietary polyunsaturates are at least partly mediated via changes in the prostanoid metabolism as well as a reduction of the sympathetic activity. Evidence has been accumulated that cardiovascular effects of dietary polyunsaturates in animal and man are comparable. The observed effects are discussed against the background of a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease after a polyunsaturate rich diet in man. © 1986.
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