The effect of α-linolenic acid from a flaxseed-enriched diet on plasma lipid and fatty acid metabolism and possible atherosclerosis risk factors was studied in Monk parrots (Myiopsitta monachus).

Twenty-four Monk parrots were randomly assigned to diets containing either 10% ground sunflower seeds or 10% ground flaxseeds. Feed intake was calculated daily. Blood samples, body condition scores and body weights were obtained at −5 weeks, day 0, 7, 14, 28, 42 and 70. Plasma samples were analyzed for total cholesterol, free cholesterol, triacylglycerols and lipoproteins. Phospholipid subfraction fatty acid profiles were determined. By day 70, the flaxseed group had significantly higher plasma phospholipid fatty acids. The sunflower group had significantly higher plasma phospholipid levels of arachidonic acid. By day 70, the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) peak shifted, resulting in significantly different HDL peak densities between the two experimental groups.

The plasma fatty acid results indicate that Monk parrots can readily convert α-linolenic acid to the long-chain omega-3 derivatives including docosahexaenoic acid and reduce arachidonic acid accumulation in plasma phospholipids. The reason for a shift in the HDL peak density is unknown at this time.

Source:  C. Petzinger et al., 2013. Conversion of α-linolenic acid to long-chain omega-3 fatty acid derivatives and alterations of HDL density subfractions and plasma lipids with dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids in Monk parrots (Myiopsitta monachus). JAPAN online, April 2013. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12076.