Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. A high-fat diet, rich in saturated fatty acids and low in polyunsaturated fatty acids, is said to be an important cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
In this experimental study, 40 male rabbits were randomly assigned to eight groups of five to receive normal diet, hypercholesterolemic diet, normal diet plus ghee, normal diet plus olive oil, normal diet plus hydrogenated oil, hypercholesterolemic diet plus ghee, hypercholesterolemic diet plus olive oil, and hypercholesterolemic diet plus hydrogenated oil. They received rabbit chow for a period of 12 weeks. At the start and end of the study, fasting blood samples were taken from all animals to measure biochemical factors including total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), triglyceride (TG), fasting blood sugar (FBS), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Moreover, aorta, left and right coronary arteries were dissected at the end of the study to investigate fatty streak formation (FSF). Data was analyzed in SPSS at a significance level of 0.05.
In rabbits under normal diet, ghee significantly increased TC, LDL, and HDL compared to the beginning (P < 0.01) and also to the other two types of fat (P < 0.05). Moreover, normal diet plus olive oil significantly enhanced FSF in left coronary arteries and aorta compared to normal diet plus ghee. In groups receiving hypercholesterolemic diets, ghee significantly increased HDL and CRP (P < 0.05) and significantly decreased FBS (P < 0.01). The hypecholesterolemic diet plus olive oil significantly increased HDL (P < 0.01). Supplementation of hypecholesterolemic diet with ghee significantly increased HDL and FBS in comparison with hydrogenated oil. Significant increase of FBS was also detected with the use of ghee compared to olive oil. Ghee also significantly reduced FSF in left and right coronary arteries compared to olive oil. FSF in left coronary arteries was significantly lower in the hypecholesterolemic diet plus ghee group compared to the hypecholesterolemic diet plus hydrogenated oil group.
According to the achieved results, future clinical trial studies and investigation of other risk factors such as inflammatory factors are required.