Dietary fatty acids and serum lipids were evaluated in 68 middle-aged women living in the northern, rural area of Okayama Prefec-ture, and were compared with the values obtained from 65 urban women from the southern part of this prefecture. A higher level in HDL cholesterol and a lower atherogenic index were observed in the rural women. The percent of energy intake as fat was lower (20.4±0.8% vs. 23.2±0.7%) and that of carbohydrate was greater in the rural group. Eicosapentaenoic (EPA, 0.41±0.04 g/day) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 0.70±0.08 g/day) intakes were significantly higher in the rural subjects than in the urban group. Significantly higher DHA levels and n-3/n-6 fatty acid ratios in serum total phospholipids were found in rural women in their fifties and the sixties compared to urban women. Dietary linoleic acid (LA) amounts were positively correlated with LA (p<0.05), and negatively with the EPA (p<0.05) and DHA (p<0.01) contents of serum total phospholipids. These results suggest that the traditional Japanese diet, containing little fat but enriched in complex carbohydrates and n-3 fatty acids of marine origin, may be related to the low atherogenic index in this rural area.
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