Impact of Dietary Fructose on the Lipid Profile in Six Macaws – A Pilot Study
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.
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