A diet rich in saturated fatty acids promotes plasmatic cholesterol levels and coronary disease in humans, whereas,a high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces atheromatous plaque thickness. This study aimed at establishing a dietary energy level, which combined with intramuscular vitamin E treatment, would improve the nutritional lipid quality and shelf-life of lamb meat. Twenty male lambs were evaluated in a 2 x 2 factorial experiment: they were fed a low- and normal-energy diet (0.85 and 1.00 UFV NE/kg DM, respectively), and were injected intramuscularly with 0 and 150 IU dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate/weekly for eight weeks. Thereafter, total fat, cholesterol, fatty acid profile, and lipostability were measured in meat samples. Meat total fat was significantly reduced by low energy intake diet and vitamin E administration. Cholesterol was significantly lower in meat from lambs' fed the 0.85 UFV NF/kg DM diet. Vitamin E treatment increased linoleic acid percent values and decreased myristic acid levels. Moreover, linoleic acid percentage was inversely correlated with muscle total fat concentration. Meat sensitivity to lipoperoxidation was inversely correlated with muscle vitamin E concentration. This study demonstrates that nutritional characteristics and shelf-life of meat benefit from a low-energy diet and intramuscular vitamin E treatment.
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