We have previously shown that the Andalusian-cultivated Asparagus officinalis L. “triguero” variety produces hypocholesterolemic and hepatoprotective effects on rats. This asparagus is a rich source of phytochemicals although we hypothesized there would be some of them more involved in these functional properties. Thus, we aimed to study the effects of asparagus (500 mg/kg body weight (bw)/day) and their partially purified fractions in flavonoids (50 mg/kg bw/day), saponins (5 mg/kg bw/day) and dietary fiber (500 mg/kg bw/day) on oxidative status and on lipid profile in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. After 5 weeks treatment, plasma lipid values, hepatic enzyme activities and liver malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations were measured. With the exception of the saponin fraction (SF), the administration of lyophilized asparagus (LA), fiber fraction (FF), and flavonoid fraction (FVF) to hypercholesterolemic rats produced a significant hypolipidemic effect compare to a high-cholesterol diet (HCD). In addition, the LA and FVF groups exhibited a significant increase in enzyme activity from multiple hepatic antioxidant systems including: superoxide dismutase, catalase, and gluthatione reductase/peroxidase as well as a decrease in MDA concentrations compared to HCD group. These results demonstrate that “triguero” asparagus possesses bioactive constituents, especially dietary fiber and flavonoids, that improve the plasma lipid profile and prevent hepatic oxidative damage under conditions of hypercholesterolemia
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