Many African grey parrots have atherosclerosis. In humans, hypercholesterolemia is an important risk factor for atherosclerosis and may also be a risk for parrots. Plasma cholesterol in people may be lowered with dietary intervention. This study looked at the influence of diet on plasma cholesterol in this bird species. Four diets tested were either low-fat or high-fat with different fatty acid compositions provided by either sunflower oil or palm kernel oil. Glucose was used in the low-fat diets to maintain similar energy values. Substantial interindividual variation was noted in the birds tested. When the birds were fed the high-fat diet rich in saturated fatty acids (palm kernel oil), they had significantly higher plasma cholesterol levels than when they were fed the other 3 diets. The fat content of most pelleted foods ranges between 5% and 15%. The fat content of most seed diets is usually much higher, but the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids is also high. More research is needed to determine if dietary intervention will reduce risk for atherosclerosis, but this research suggests that it would be advisable to feed diets with up to 10% fat in the dry-matter.

Influence of amount and type of dietary fat on plasma cholesterol concentrations in African Grey Parrots. Bavelarr FJ, Beynen AC. J APPL RES VET MED 11:1-8, 2003.