Dietary stearic acid reduces cholesterol absorption and increases endogenous cholesterol excretion in hamsters fed cereal-based diets

Craig L. Schneider, Russell L. Cowles, Cindy L. Stuefer-Powell, Timothy P. Carr

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The observation that dietary stearic acid does not raise plasma cholesterol concentration is well documented, although the regulating mechanisms are not completely understood. Therefore, we examined the effect of dietary stearic acid on cholesterol absorption and sterol balance using male Syrian hamsters fed modified NIH-07 cereal-based diets selectively enriched in palmitic acid (16:0), stearic acid (18:0), trans fatty acid (18:1t), cis oleic acid (18:1c) or linoleic acid (18:2). All diets contained 17 g/100 g total fat and 0.05 g/100 g cholesterol; the five fat blends were enriched 30% with the fatty acid of interest above a constant fatty acid background. Cholesterol absorption efficiency was 50-55% in all treatment groups except for the 18:0 group, in which cholesterol absorption was significantly reduced to 21%. Plasma total cholesterol concentration was significantly lower in the 18:0 group compared to the 16:0 group. Fecal neutral steroid excretion was significantly greater in hamsters fed the high 18:0 diet compared to the other treatment groups. After accounting for unabsorbed dietary cholesterol, endogenous cholesterol excretion was about 100% higher in the 18:0 group. Consequently, the calculated rate of whole body cholesterol synthesis was significantly increased by dietary 18:0. Bile acid excretion accounted for only 12-20% of total sterol output by the hamsters in this study. Thus, the data suggest that reduced plasma cholesterol concentration in hamsters fed high 18:0 diets may be influenced by reduced cholesterol absorption and increased excretion of endogenous cholesterol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1232-1238
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 11 2000



  • Cholesterol absorption
  • Hamsters
  • Stearic acid
  • Sterol balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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