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Study the Effect of Different Levels of Zucchini ( Cucurbita pepo L.) on the Biological Indicators for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Rats Fed High-Fat Diets

Authors:
Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2020, 11, 63-81
https://www.scirp.org/journal/fns
ISSN Online: 2157-9458
ISSN Print: 2157-944X
DOI:
10.4236/fns.2020.112007 Feb. 10, 2020 63
Food and Nutrition Sciences
Study the Effect of Different Levels of Zucchini
(Cucurbita pepo L.) on the Biological Indicators
for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in
Rats Fed High-Fat Diets
El-Sayeda G. E. El-Sahar1, Hala R. A. Sopeah1, Mona S. Almujaydil2
1Home Economic Department, Faculty of Specific Education, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
2Food Sciences and Human Nutrition, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Qassim University, Al-Mulida, KSA
Abstract
The effects of fresh zucchini on nutritional status, and biological indicators
for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in rats fed high-fat diets investi-
gated in this study.
Thirty Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into
two main groups the first, negative control group Co (−) (n = 6), fed basal di
et,
The second group (n = 24) fed high-fat diet (containing basal diet + 5% tal-
low + 1% cholesterol
+ 0.02% bile salt). This group was divided into four
subgroups each group 6 rats: group positive control co (+) fed high-
fat diet
only, group 1 (G (1)) fed high-fat diet plus 10% zucchini, group 2 (
G (2) fed
high-fat diet plus 15% zucchini and group 3 (G (3)) fed high-fat diet plus 20
%
zucchini. The levels of serum total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), high-
density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low-density lipoprotein choles-
terol (LDL-
C) were measured after eight wk. of experimental treatment. The
pathologic changes of the heart, spleen and kidney were evaluated. SPSS, one
way ANOVA was used to analyze the results.
The results indicated that the
mean values of body weight gain (BWG) and feed efficiency ratio (FIR) in G
(2) and G (3) showed significant decrease compared to co (−),
co (+) and G 1.
The results showed that in groups (G
1, G2 and G3) the relative weight of
heart had significant increase when compared with control negative group.
But liver and spleen weight had no significant difference when compared
with
control negative and positive group, the levels of TC, TG and LDL-C
were
significantly increased in co (+) (P < 0.05) Compared to co (−), all groups fed
on high fat diet containing different levels of zucchini (10%, 15%
and 20%)
had significant decrease in TC and LDL-
C compared with co (+), also G2 and
G3 had improve significant in HDL-C when compared with co. (+). The
How to cite this paper:
El-Sahar,
El
-S.G.E., Sopeah, H.R.A. and Almujaydil,
M
.S. (2020)
Study the Effect of Different
Levels of Zucchini (
Cucurbita pepo
L.)
on
the Biological Indicators for the Preve
n-
ti
on of Cardiovascular Disease in
Rats Fed
High
-Fat Diets.
Food and Nutrition Sciences
,
11
, 63-81.
https://doi.org/10.4236/fns.2020.112007
Received:
December 20, 2019
Accepted:
February 7, 2020
Published:
February 10, 2020
Copyright © 20
20 by author(s) and
Scientific
Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution International
License (CC BY
4.0).
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Open Access
El-S. G. E. El-Sahar et al.
DOI:
10.4236/fns.2020.112007 64
Food and Nutrition Sciences
groups fed on zucchini give results similar to group co. (−). The best treat-
ment was zucchini (15% and 20%) which had lowest values of total lipid cho-
lesterol and LDL-C, and the best values of HDL-C, HDL-C/TC % for al
l
groups fed on high fat diet and zucchini increased non significantly (p
0.05)
the HDL-C/TC % index compared to group co. (+).
while, G2 and G3 gave
significant decrease in LDL-C/HDL-C ratio compared to group co. (+). Mor-
phologic changes of
heart, spleen and kidney revealed that groups G2 and G3
had a similar preventive effect against CHD in this experimental model.
In
conclusion, results showed that zucchini had similar potential to at
tenuate
CHD-related parameters in a mild oxidative stress induced by high-
fat diet in
rats.
Keywords
Atherogenic Index, Cardio Protective,
Cucurbita pepo
L., High-Fat Diet,
HDL-C, LDL-C, Lipid Profile, Zucchini
1. Introduction
The public health strategies for the past 20 years, has the principal focus for re-
ducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) has been aimed at decreasing
serum cholesterol levels. The implicit basis for clinical cardiovascular disease
(CVD) is a collection of thrombosis and atherosclerosis. However, new findings
have spotlighted not only cholesterol but also low density lipoprotein (LDL) and
triacylglycerol as a significant lipid risk factor for CHD [1]. Heart disease is the
main cause of dying for people of most ethnicities [2].
The risk of promoting coronary heart disease (CHD) after age 40 has been
predestined to be 32% for women and 49% for men [3]. The role of nutrition, to
the protection of CHD is incontestable. Advance in understanding the impor-
tance of diet on CHD has develop in the past 100 years. Early evidence came
from facts on trends in food consumption and studies which showed associa-
tions between spread and fat intake across and within countries [4] [5]. For
many years, research then focused on the role of individual nutrient intakes, like
cholesterol and saturated fat, through metabolic studies and clinical trials [6] [7].
Until very recently, most studies of diet and CVD focused on dietary lipids.
Both associations between fat intake, cholesterol and CHD, and responsiveness
of blood cholesterol to changes in dietary fat [8] [9] [10].
More recently, there have been major shifts in nutrition research to under-
stand the role of foods and diet as a whole. Dietary strategies which are able to
reduce these circulating lipid levels and offer long-term efficacy comparable with
effective drug treatments are currently being sought. One dietary strategy that
may benefit the lipid profile involves supplementation of the diet with dietary
antioxidant which is naturally present in plant [11].
These plants included Zucchini (
Cucurbita pepo
L.) that are also known as
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Courgette; belong to the species
Cucurbita pepo L
. This vegetable originated
from Italy and can be cultivated easily in temperate climates. Zucchini are most-
ly made up of water and thus it is very low in calories. According to the USDA
National Nutrient Database [12].
The genus
Cucurbita
includes pumpkin, acorn squash, crooked neck squash,
and straight neck squash, all of which contain significant amounts of cucurbi-
tane glycosides and triterpenoid compounds [13]. The folk medicinal properties
associated with zucchini are numerous and include treatment for benign pros-
tatic hyperplasia and leprosy [14].
One medium fresh zucchini has 33 calories, 2.37 grams of protein, 6.1 grams
of carbohydrate and 2 grams of fiber. Zucchini are also a good source of folic
acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, and
lutein. The summer squash also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
phytonutrients. Which help rid the body of free radicals and excess inflamma-
tion. Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and potassium. These
properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation. Low sodium and high po-
tassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber, such as the poly-
saccharide in zucchini, lowers cholesterol levels. Zucchini is believed to possess
enzymatic and non- enzymatic antioxidant activities against the buildup of reac-
tive oxygen species (ROS) in the cells [12] [15] [16] [17].
ROS include the singlet oxygen 1O2, the superoxide anion
2
O
, the hydroxyl
ion OH, the peroxide
2
O
, and the hydrogen peroxide H2O2. These free radicals
cause cellular injuries and initiate peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in
biological membranes [18] [19]. This combination works synergistically to main-
tain good circulation, which is necessary for healthy blood pressure and a healthy
heart. Due to these concerns, it is crucial to focus efforts toward developing
more effective to discover natural agents as alternatives to currently available
treatments.
This study aimed to study the effects of fresh zucchini on nutritional status,
oxidative stress and the atherosclerosis effects in a rat model with mild oxidative
stress induced by high-fat diet.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Animals Protocols
Thirty male Sprague Dawley rats, weighting 110 - 120 g were used in this study.
They were obtained from the National Research Center (NRC) Dokki Giza
Egypt. Animals were clinically healthy and they randomized and housed in stain-
less steel wire bottom cages (3 rats/cage) and maintained in air-conditioned room
on a 12 h light/dark cycle at 22˚C + 2˚C and given the basal diet for one week as
an adaptation period before treatments.
2.2. Preparation of Zucchini
Zucchini was purchased from the local market, washed then grounded before
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mixing with the diet and added to the basal diet in 100 g, 150 g and 200 g/kg di-
et. During the feeding experiments, animals were daily inspected and food in-
take was recorded while body weights were recorded according to [20]. The
feeding experiment lasted for eight wk.
Tallow was purchased from the local market, then grounded before mixing
with the diet and added to the basal diet in 50 g/kg diet.
2.3. Experimental Design
The animals were distributed into two main groups (Table 1): the first, negative
control group Co. (−) (n = 6), fed basal diet [21]. The second group (n = 24) fed
high-fat diet (containing basal diet + 5% tallow + 1% cholesterol + 0.02% bile
salt). This group was divided into four subgroups: group positive control co. (+)
(n = 6) fed high-fat diet only, group 1 (G (1)) (n = 6) fed high-fat diet plus 10%
zucchini, group 2 (G (2) (n = 6) fed high-fat diet plus 15% zucchini, and group 3
(G (3)) (n = 6) fed high-fat diet plus 20% zucchini.
The difference between negative control group Co. (−) which fed on basal diet
only as Table 1 and group Co. (+) which fed on basal diet addition to 5% tallow
+ 1% cholesterol + 0.02% bile salt (Table 1).
2.4. Used Chemicals
Cholesterol as pure white crystalline powder and bile salts as pure yellow powd-
er, were obtained from Elgamhoria Company for Med Preparations Chemicals
and Medical Equipment’s, Cairo-Egypt.
2.5. Biological Evaluation
During the experimental period (8 weeks), the diet consumed was recorded
every day. The body weight gain (B.W.G %) and feed efficiency ratio (F.E.R.)
were determined according to [20].
Table 1. Diet composition (%).
Negative
control (Co. −)
High fat diet
Positive
Control
(Co. +)
Group (1)
G (1)
Group (2)
G (2)
Group (3)
G (3)
Casein 15 15 15 15 15
Corn oil 10 10 10 10 10
Cellulose
5
5
5
5
5
Vit. Mixture
1
1
1
1
1
Salt mixture
4
4
4
4
4
Tallow
0
5
5
5
5
Cholesterol
0
1
1
1
1
Bile salt
0
0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Zucchini
0
0
10 15 20
Corn starch Up to 100
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At the end of experiment period, animals were sacrificed after 12 h of fasting
then blood samples were collected with care to avoid haemolysis by receiving it
on the wall of the tube. Blood samples were collected in clean dry labeled centri-
fuge tubes and left to clot at room temperature for while, then centrifuged at
3000 rpm for 10 minutes. The clear supernatant serums were aspirated by means
of Pasteur pipette and stored at 20˚C in Epindorff’ tubes until used in the bio-
chemical analysis [22]. Serum total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high
density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol
(LDL-C) were determined by using enzymatic colorimetric method [23] [24]
[25] [26] [27]. Very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) were carried
out according to Lee and Nieman [27] as follows VLDL-C = TC LDL-C
HDL-C. Atherogenic index (AI) was calculated as HDL-C/TC% and LDL-C/HDLC
[28].
2.6. Sample Preparation
The target organs were examined as following: Organs such as heart, liver and
kidny were excised and weighed. Then washed in cold saline (9 g/l NaCl), stored
in formalin solution (10%) for 24r hours. Washing was done in tap water then
serial dilutions of alcohol (methyl, ethyl and absolute ethyl) were used for dehy-
dration. Specimens were cleared in xylene and embedded in paraffin at 56 degree
in hot air oven for 24 hours. Paraffin bees wax tissue blocks were prepared for
sectioning at four microns by slidge microtome. The obtained tissue sections
were collected on glass slides, deparffinized and stained by hematoxylin and eo-
sin stains [29]. for histopathological examination through the light microscope.
2.7. Statistical Analysis
Statistical Analysis was performed by using computer program, Statistical Pack-
age for Social Sciences [30]. Values are given as means ± SD, and the differences
between groups were determined by one way ANOVA. Values of P < 0.05 were
considered significant.
3. Results
3.1. Effect of Zucchini
1) Body weight gain, food intake and feed efficiency rate.
As shown in Table 2, the mean values of initial body weight (IBW) of all ex-
perimental groups showed no significant difference. The mean value of final
body weight (FBW) in group Co. (+) (185, 20 ± 5.22 g) was significantly (p
0.05) higher compared to the corresponding mean values of groups Co. (−), G 1,
G 2 and G3 (131 ± 2.65, 154.6 ± 4.51, 110.4 ± 3.98 and 109.2 ± 3.11 respectively).
The mean values of body weight gain (BWG) and feed efficiency ratio (FIR) in
group Co. (+) and group G1 (64.8 ± 4.6 and 35.6 ± 2.3 respectively) was signifi-
cantly (p 0.05) higher when compared with group co (−), while G (2) and G
(3) showed significant decrease compared to group co (−), group co (+) and G 1.
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Table 2. Body weight gain, food intake and feed efficiency rate of all groups after 8-week
feeding.
IBW (g) FBW (g) BWG (g) FI (g) FER (%)
Co. (−) 119.20 ± 3.11 131.00 ± 2.65
11.80 ± 1.92
21.60 ± 3.44 5.48 ± 0.56
Co. (+) 120.40 ± 3.21 185.20 ± 5.22a 64.80 ± 4.60a 33.20 ± 5.50a 19.83 ± 2.55a
G (1) 119.00 ± 2.55 154.60 ± 4.51ab 35.60 ± 2.30ab 29.00 ± 2.35a 12.30 ± 0.69ab
G (2) 117.00 ± 2.55 110.40 ± 3.98abc 6.60 ± 1.52abc 31.00 ± 2.45a −2.12 ± 0.39abc
G (3) 120.40 ± 3.21 109.20 ± 3.11abc 11.20 ± 4.5abc 24.40 ± 2.30bd −4.68 ± 1.80abc
Co (−), normal diet; Co (+) high-fat diet; G (1), high-fat diet plus zucchini (10%); G (2), high-fat diet plus
zucchini (15%); G (3), high-fat diet plus zucchini (20%); IBW, initial body weight; FBW, final body weight;
BWG, body weight gain; FI, food intake; FER, feed efficiency rate. Results are expressed as means ± SD for
n = 6 animals per group. Different superscript letter(s) in each column indicate significant differences
among groups (p
0.05).
2) Relative weight of heart, liver and kidney:
The results showed that in groups (G1, G2 and G3) fed on high fat diet and
zucchini the relative weight of heart had significant increase when compared
with control negative group. But liver weight had no significant difference when
compared with control negative and positive group, However relative kidney
weight showed significant increase in G1 (0.92 ± 0.19) when compared with
group co. (+). G2 and G3 showed no significant difference when compared with
co. (+) (Table 3).
3) Serum lipid profile:
Table 4 shows the effect of different levels of zucchini on serum total choles-
terol (TC), triglyceride (TG), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), very
low density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C), and high density lipoprotein
cholesterol (HDL-C). It could be observed that group co. (+) had significant in-
crease in TC and LDL-C compared with control negative rats. Also, all groups
fed on high fat diet containing different levels of zucchini (10%, 15% and 20%)
had significant decrease in TC and LDL-C compared with control positive group
of rats, also could be observed that G2 and G3 fed on high fat diet containing le-
vels of zucchini (15% and 20%) had improve significant in HDL-C (48.0 ± 5.48
and 46.2 ± 4.82 respectively) when compared with control positive group co. (+).
The groups fed on zucchini give results similar to group co. (−). The best treat-
ment was zucchini (15% and 20%) which had lowest values of total lipid choles-
terol and LDL-C, and the best values of HDL-C.
4) atherogenic indices:
Table 5 shows the comparative change among groups in HDL-C/TC % and
LDLC/HDL-C ratio as atherogenic indices. The low LDL-C/HDL-C ratio indi-
cates low risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), while the high HDL-C/TC % ra-
tio reflects the low risk of (CHD). The changes of HDL-C/TC % for all groups
fed on high fat diet and zucchini increased non significantly (p 0.05) the
HDL-C/TC % index compared to group co. (+), however no significant differ-
ence was noticed in this index between these groups, this results reflects the low
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Table 3. Relative weight of heart, liver and kidney.
Groups
Heart weight (g) Liver weight (g) Kidney weight (g)
Co. (−) 0.30 ± 0.07 2.56 ± 0.59 0.74 ± 0.21
Co. (+)
0.29 ± 0.06 3.00 ± 0.57 0.73 ± 0.15
G1 0.34 ± 0.05b 2.69 ± 0.25 0.92 ± 0.19b
G2 0.36 ± 0.04b 2.83 ± 0.45 0.76 ± 0.08
G3 0.38 ± 0.08b 3.24 ± 0.55 0.73 ± 0.08
Results are expressed as means ± SD for n = 6 animals per group. Different superscript letter(s) in each
column indicate significant differences among groups (p ≤ 0.05).
Table 4. Effect of zucchini on serum lipid profile in rats after 8 weeks.
Groups TC
(mg/dl)
TG
(mg/dl)
HDL-C
(mg/dl)
LDL-C
(mg/dl)
VLDL-C
(mg/dl)
Co. (−) 76.00 ± 15.70
68.20 ± 9.78
48.40 ± 9.74
13.60 ± 10.3 14.00 ± 1.871
Co. (+) 152.00 ± 38.75a
94.20 ± 18.77
35.20 ± 10.62
97.60 ± 39.33a 19.20 ± 3.56
G1 130.40 ± 28.61a
86.20 ± 22.48 42.20 ± 12.80
70.60 ± 22.51a 17.60 ± 4.22
G2 124.00 ± 28.64
137.80 ± 91.94
a
48.00 ± 5.48
b
48.40 ± 43.22 27.60 ± 17.91
G3 127.20 ± 26.44
160.80 ± 49.64
a
46.20 ± 4.82
b
49.20 ± 24.22 31.80 ± 10.04a
Results are expressed as means ± SD for n = 6 animals per group. Different superscript letter(s) in each
column indicate significant differences among groups (p ≤ 0.05).
Table 5. Effect of zucchini on atherogenic indices.
Groups HDL-C/TC % LDL-C/HDL-C
C (−) 64.14 ± 8.01 0.28 ± 0.23
C (+) 24.79 ± 11.96a 3.12 ± 1.74a
G1 32.37 ± 5.64a 1.72 ± 0.56
G2 40.27 ± 9.34a 1.02 ± 0.96b
G3 37.51 ± 7.56a 1.07 ± 0.59b
Results are expressed as means ± SD for n = 6 animals per group. Different superscript letter(s) in each
column indicate significant differences among groups (p ≤ 0.05).
risk of CHD. On the other hand the groups fed on high fat diet and zucchini G2
and G3 gave significant decrease in LDL-C/HDL-C ratio compared to group co.
(+). Group 2 showed the lowest LDL-C/HDL-C ratio compared to co. (+). The
result for group co. (+) was significantly higher than that of co. (−) in parallel
with the protective effect, also the value of LDL-C/HDL-C for G2 showed a
highly significant (p 0.05) decrease compared with co. (−).
3.2. Histopathological Findings
1) Morphologic changes of rat heart stained with hematoxylin and eosin:
Representative heart sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin in each
group are shown in Figures 1-5 the heart in the control rat of group Co. (−)
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Figure 1. Heart of rat from group Co. (−) Showing no histopathological changes (H & E
× 400).
Figure 2. Heart of rat from group Co. (+) showing intermuscular oedema with inflam-
matory cells infiltration (H & E × 400).
Figure 3. Heart of rat from group 1 showing slight intermuscular oedema (H & E × 400).
Figure 4. Heart of rat from group 2 showing no histopathological changes (H & E × 400).
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Figure 5. Heart of rat from group 3 showing no histopathological changes (H & E × 400).
(Figure 1) showed no histopathological alteration and the normal histological
structure of the myocardium. Heart of rat in group Co. (+) (Figure 2) revealed
slight intermuscular edema deposition of fat in pericardium with inflammatory
cells infiltration, while in group 1 (Figure 3) slight intermuscular edema. On the
other hand, heart of rat in group 2 and group 3 (Figure 4 and Figure 5) showed
histopathological alteration and the normal histological structure of the myocar-
dium. The morphologic features of heart in the rats of group 2 and 3 were closed
to that of the control rats group Co. (−), which indicated a similar preventive
effect of Zucchini in the development of atherosclerosis in this experimental
model.
2) Morphologic changes of rat liver stained with hematoxylin and eosin:
Representative liver sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin in each
group are shown in Figures 6-10. The liver in the control rat of group Co. (−)
(Figure 6) showing the normal histological structure of hepatic lobule. Liver of
rat in group Co (+) (Figure 7) revealed Kupffer cells activation, found a similar
result in group 1 (Figure 8). On the other hand, liver of rat in group 2 (Figure 9)
Showing Kupffer cells activation and cytoplasmic vacuolization of hepatocytes,
group 3 (Figure 10) showed Kupffer cells activation and congestion of central
vein. The morphologic features of liver in the rats of G 1 and G 3 were closed to
that of the control rats group Co. (−), which indicated a similar preventive effect
of Zucchini in this experimental model.
3) Morphologic changes of rat kidney stained with hematoxylin and eo-
sin:
Representative kidney sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin in each
group are shown in Figures 11-15, kidney of rat in group Co. (+) (Figure 12)
revealed cystic dilatation of renal tubules and atrophy of some glomerular tuft,
the kidney in the control rat of group Co. () (Figure 11) showing the normal
histological structure of renal parenchyma, found a similar result in the experi-
mental groups (Figures 13-15) the morphologic features of kidney in the rats of
group 1 and 3 were closed to that of the control rats group Co. (−), which indi-
cated a similar preventive effect of Zucchini.
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Figure 6. Liver of rat from group Co. (−) showing the normal structure of hepatic lobule
(H & E × 400).
Figure 7. Liver of rat from group Co. (+) showing Kupffer cells histological activation (H
& E × 400).
Figure 8. Liver of rat from group 1 showing Kupffer cells activation (H & E × 400).
Figure 9. Liver of rat from group 2 showing Kupffer cells activation and cytoplasmic va-
cuolization of hepatocytes.
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Figure 10. Liver of rat from group 3 showing Kupffer cells activation (H & E × 400).
Figure 11. Kidney of rat from group Co. (−) showing the normal histological structure of
renal parenchyma (H & E × 400).
Figure 12. Kidney of rat from group Co. (+) showing cystic dilatation of renal tubules
and atrophy of some glomerular tuft (H & E × 400).
Figure 13. Kidney of rat from group 1 showing normal renal parenchyma (H & E × 400).
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Figure 14. Kidney of rat from group 2 showing no histopathological changes (H & E ×
400).
Figure 15. Kidney of rat from group 3 showing no histopathological changes (H & E ×
400).
4. Discussion
There is now evidence that dietary factors influence risk of coronary heart dis-
ease (CHD) both favorably and unfavorably [31] [32] [33] [34]. The three most
atherogenic dietary risk factors are cholesterol, saturated fat and obesity [35].
The free radical theory of aging, first posited by Harman [36] has long provided
a biological basis for the progression of chronic disease. Because of its role as a
free radical scavenger, zucchini contains of vitamin C has been hypothesized to
have a preventive role in CVD.
Strongest effects were seen with regular consumption of zucchini [37]. In the
Beta-carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) study, there was a protective effect of
zucchini intake on CHD mortality. Summer squash (
Cucurbita pepo
subsp.
pe-
po
) is a seasonal vegetable that contains a number of beneficial micronutrients
such as minerals, carotenoids, vitamin C, phenolic compounds, etc. [38] [39]
[40]. It has been used in traditional folk medicine to treat colds and alleviate
aches, due to its antioxidant/anti-radical, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory,
antiviral, antimicrobial and analgesic activities [41] [42] [43] [44] [45]. There-
fore zucchini was chosen as a research target
With study the effect of different levels of zucchini (
Cucurbita pepo
L.) on the
Biological Indicators for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Rats Fed
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High-Fat Diets. The results of this study showed that the final body weight after
8 weeks in group Co.(+) was significantly higher compared to the corresponding
values of groups Co. (−), G 1, G 2 and G3. The body weight gain (BWG) and
feed efficiency ratio (FIR) in group Co. (+) and group G1was significantly (p
0.05) higher when compared with group co. (−), while G (2) and G (3) showed
significant decrease compared to group co (−), group co. (−) and G 1. These re-
sults indicated that zucchini can cause weight loss, which my lead to decrease in
the risk of cardiovascular disease, zucchini contains proteins, fibers, polysaccha-
rides and minerals (iron, zinc, manganese, copper, etc.) [46] [47]. Pectin, a ma-
jor component of plant cell walls, it is a water-soluble fiber found abundantly in
zucchini plants [48]. Subsequently, high-fiber diets have also been associated
with reduced risk of obesity [49] [50] [51].
Among plasma lipoproteins, LDL-C has a crucial role in inducing atheroscle-
rosis and it has been identified as an independent risk factor for coronary heart
disease [35] [52] [53] [54]. while HDL-C levels are inversely related to coronary
heart disease [55]. Results obtained in this study indicated that administration of
zucchini for 8weeks in rats fed on high fat diet significantly reduced cholesterol,
triglyceride and LDL-C as compared to positive control group. In addition, zuc-
chini was found to increase HDL-C levels.
This finding was in agreement with the results that cholesterol and triglyce-
ride levels significantly increased in diabetic control group as compared to the
normal control group. Administration of high dose
C. pepo
(2 g/kg) to diabetic
rats significantly reduced cholesterol levels as compared to diabetic control group.
Similar to glibenclamide consumption of both high and low dose
C. pepo
signif-
icantly reduced triglyceride levels as compared to diabetic control group. In ad-
dition, this plant was found to increase blood insulin and HDL levels, although
this was not significant [56].
The lipid reducing effects of
C. pepo
is probably due to its fibers. These sub-
stances reduce plasma LDL levels by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol and
bile acids and improvement the activity of LDL receptors. Moreover, a fiber-rich
diet increases levels of triglyceride by suppressing lipogenesis in the liver [57]
[58]. The presence of unsaturated fatty acids reduces cholesterol levels in rats
[59]. The lipid-reducing properties of this plant are partly attributed to the pec-
tin present in it. Previous data suggest that diets rich in pectin facilitate excretion
of bile acids which lead to their synthesis increase from cholesterol in the liver
and ultimately reduction of blood cholesterol levels [60]. Pectin enhances the ac-
tivity of lipoprotein lipase in fat tissue and heart, resulting in higher absorption
of triglyceride rich lipoproteins (very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and chy-
lomicron) in tissues other than liver to enhance their collapse and thus decrease
triglyceride levels [61]. Since cholesterol plays a crucial role in lipoprotein bio-
synthesis and LDL’s contain the highest level of cholesterol, LDL is likely to dep-
lete following a reduction in cholesterol levels. On the other hand, LDL reduc-
tion may be due to an increase in LDL catabolism. By regulating LDL receptor
El-S. G. E. El-Sahar et al.
DOI:
10.4236/fns.2020.112007 76
Food and Nutrition Sciences
gene, flavonoids increase the number of LDL receptors on the surface of liver
cells. Following recognition and attachment of LDL apoprotein to LDL recep-
tors, LDL is driven into the hepatocyte and removed from the blood stream [62].
These finding provides a theoretical rationale for the use of zucchini as a preven-
tive agent in atherosclerosis.
Low LDL-C/HDL-C ratio indicates low risk of coronary heart disease (CHD),
while high HDL-C/TC % reflects low risk of CHD [55]. The results of this study
in rat model on the high-fat diet showed that zuchini had the same effects in
HDL-C/TC % and LDL-C/HDL-C ratio. It had significantly increased HDL-C/
TC %, whereas significantly decreased LDL-c/HDL-c ratio compared to rats fed
high-fat diet. However, HDL-C/TC % was not significantly different in the con-
trol group compared to the treatment groups, but LDLC/HDL-C ratio was sig-
nificantly lower in rats fed on zucchini compared to that in control group. This
finding agreed with the study of Asgary [56] which had shown that a dietary in-
take of zucchini is associated with a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as
cardiovascular disease. Also, demonstrated that zucchini has enzymatic antioxi-
dants are equally important in protecting organisms against free radical build-
up. Enzymatic antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, protect cells and t is-
sues from oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species. Superoxide dismutase
(SOD), peroxidases (PO) and catalases (Cat) are some of the enzymatic anti-
oxidative defense mechanisms. Zucchini extracts showed higher SOD activity
[63].
Zucchini had important role in nutrition human and his health secure due to
this fruit and its components were safe, accomplished to inhibit significantly the
H2O2-induced damage and exhibit anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities
[64].
5. Conclusions
In conclusion, this research is characterized by the use of three different ratios of
zucchini to determine the most effective percentage and study the extent of its
effective influence on the prevention of heart disease and the dangers of exces-
sive consumption of fats as well as morphological examination of the tissues of
the heart, liver and kidneys. Which indicated preventive effect of Zucchini in rat
model, zucchini can cause weight loss at 15% and 20%, which my lead to de-
crease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, zucchini had protective effect in
reducing the extent of Serum lipid profiles (TC, TG, LDL-C and VLDL-C) and in-
crease HDL-C levels, It had significantly increased HDL-C/TC %, whereas sig-
nificantly decreased LDLc/HDL-c ratio compared to rats fed high-fat diet. But
LDLC/HDL-C ratio was significantly lower in rats fed on zucchini.
The result of the present investigation is quite encouraging and the effect which
is further enhanced by its antioxidant properties. The zucchini fruit showed
promising results, and could play a beneficial role in human nutrition and gen-
eral health. We conclude that
C. pepo
and their components were safe, able to
El-S. G. E. El-Sahar et al.
DOI:
10.4236/fns.2020.112007 77
Food and Nutrition Sciences
hypolipedemia. However, further studies in detail are warranted to explore its
active ingredients responsible for the beneficial action and the mechanisms in-
volved. Controlled clinical trials are also strongly needed to confirm the Preven-
tion of Cardiovascular disease effects in human subjects. These are our focus for
future studies.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this pa-
per.
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... But this unpleasant circumstance is very unlikely in their commercial varieties (Rolnik and Olas, 2020;Tejada et al., 2020). Zucchini provides a number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidant, and other valuable plant compounds offering numerous health benefits including better heart health, improved digestion, weight loss, lower level of blood sugar, healthy vision, anticancer, and reduced age-related disorders (Aboul-Nasr et al., 2002;El-Sahar et al., 2020;Knuckles and Malloy, 2020). ...
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Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo) is a seasonal vegetable with high nutritional and medical values. Many useful properties of this fruit are attributed to bioactive compounds. Zucchini fruits (“Yellow” and “Light Green” varieties) and four distinctive components (lutein,β-carotene, zeaxanthin and dehydroascorbic acid) were selected. Firstly, the lutein,β-carotene, zeaxanthin and dehydroascorbic acid contents were determined in these fruits. Then, in order to evaluate the safety and suitability of their use, different assays were carried out: (i) genotoxicity and anti-genotoxicity tests to determine the safety and DNA-protection against hydrogen peroxide; (ii) cytotoxicity; and (iii) DNA fragmentation and Annexin V/PI (Propidium Iodide) assays to evaluate the pro-apoptotic effect. Results showed that: (i) all the substances were non-genotoxic; (ii) all the substances were anti-genotoxic except the highest concentration of lutein; (iii) “Yellow” zucchini epicarp and mesocarp exhibited the highest cytotoxic activity (IC50 > 0.1 mg/mL and 0.2 mg/mL, respectively); and (iv) “Light Green” zucchini skin induced internucleosomal DNA fragmentation,β-carotene being the possible molecule responsible for its pro-apoptotic activity. To sum up, zucchini fruit could play a positive role in human health and nutrition due to this fruit and its components were safe, able to inhibit significantly the H2O2-induced damage and exhibit anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities toward HL60 (human promyelocytic leukemia cells) tumor cells. The information generated from this research should be considered when selecting potential accessions for breeding program purposes.
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Mineral concentrations were determined in fruit of 34 traditional and improved genotypes of Cucurbita pepo. Genotypes belong to two subspecies, the subsp. pepo (classified into zucchini, vegetable marrow and pumpkin morphotypes) and subsp. ovifera (with three varieties: texana, ozarkana and clypeata). Phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and sodium were analyzed, and two distinct patterns of mineral accumulation were found to be evident by cluster analysis. Genotypes in group 1 (zucchini and pumpkin) showed the highest concentrations of total minerals (24,338–62,136 mg kg⁻¹ dry weight) as compared to the genotypes in group 2 (vegetable marrow, var. clypeata, var. texana and var. ozarkana). Some genotypes with significant concentrations for different minerals were identified, with the genotype Cu-2 (traditional zucchini) showing the highest concentrations for K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn and Na (4,615, 315, 300, 4.8, 3.03, 3.83 and 9.4 mg kg⁻¹ dry weight, respectively). The zucchini morphotype was superior to other morphotypes studied in terms of contribution to the recommended dietary allowance of mineral content for both men and women. The mineral content of C. pepo fruit reported provides a valuable material for breeding programs to generate lines with a significant long-term beneficial impact on human health.
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