Impact of Dietary Fructose on the Lipid Profile in Six Macaws – A Pilot Study
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Karine Béland1*, DMV, IPSAV; Marion Desmarchelier1, DMV, MSc, DACZM, DECZM (Zoo Health Management); Shannon T. Ferrell2, DVM, DABVP (Avian), DACZM; Hugues Beaufrère3, Dr Med Vet, PhD, DACZM, DABVP (Avian), DECZM (Avian)
1Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada;2 Zoo de Granby, Granby, QC, Canada;3 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada


Atherosclerosis is frequently reported in captive parrots.1 Recent studies have highlighted the potential role of high fructose intake in human cardiovascular diseases.2,3 The aim of this study was to determine the effect of dietary fructose on the lipid profile in psittacines. Our hypotheses were that replacement of dietary fruits by vegetables would result in decreased serum cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL, while administration of oral fructose would cause their elevation. Six macaws (3 Ara ararauna, 3 Ara chloropterus) were used for this study. The birds were initially restricted to only low-starch vegetables and maintenance pellets for a month. Then, using a crossover study design, each bird was randomly attributed to either receive 34 kcal of a fructose solution daily for 5 days, then an equivalent volume of water for 5 days, or water in the first 5 days followed by the fructose solution. Lipid profiles were performed 5 times over the course of the study. A linear mixed model was used for statistical analysis. There were no statistically significant differences in serum cholesterol, triglyceride, HDL, and LDL levels over time and treatment. However, LDL levels tended to decrease following the initial removal of fruits in the diet for a month and to subsequently increase three months after returning to their original diet in 4 macaws. While no significant effect was demonstrated, this study nevertheless suggests potential effects of dietary fructose on dyslipidemia. Higher amounts of fructose and longer periods of administration should be considered in future studies.


The authors would like to thank the Zoo de Granby Wildlife Health scholarship for funding this study, as well as the zoo veterinary technicians, macaw keepers, Ms. Helen Kocmareck and the OVC‘s Animal Health Laboratory for their assistance with this project.

Literature Cited

1.  Beaufrère H, Ammersbach M, Reavill DR, Garner MM, Heatley JJ, Wakamatsu N, Nevarez JG. Prevalence of and risk factors associated with atherosclerosis in psittacine birds. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013;242:1696–1704.

2.  Kolderup A, Svihus B. Fructose metabolism and relation to atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:1–12.

3.  Stanhope KL, Bremer AA, Medici V, Nakajima K, Ito Y. Nakano T, Chen G, Fong TH, Lee V, Menorca RI, Keim NL, Havel PJ. Consumption of fructose and high fructose corn syrup increase postprandial triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and apolipoprotein-B in young men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96:E1596– E1605.


Speaker Information
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Karine Béland, DMV, IPSAV
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vétérinaire
Université de Montréal
St. Hyacinthe, QC, Canada

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