A dietary factor is thought to be responsible for constant non-genetic neutropenia in Africans (Ogunranti, 1993). As early as 1941, Forbes et al; noted that persons of African origin had lower white blood cell counts than Caucasians. Subsequent studies of the total white blood cell counts and neutrophil counts of healthy afro-American, east Africans and afro-Caribbean adult have consistently demonstrated significantly lower values of both the lower and upper limit of normal when compared with Caucasian adults (Bain, 1996, Pancham, et al. 2002. Rippey, 1967). It has also been observed that low neutrophil counts are uncommon for Caucasians while high neutrophil counts are uncommon for blacks (Reed et al. 1991).

            However, a comparative study of the white blood cell counts of cord blood from 240 babies of five (5) different ethnic group showed that there is “No ethnic” difference found in the total white blood cell count, Neutrophil, lymphocyte monocyte or eosinophil count (Chan et al. 1985). Thus, the lower total white blood cell and neutrophil counts which has been observed in adults of African and Afro-carribean origin is not present in neonates. Similarly eosinophil counts did not differ between the different ethnic groups suggesting that African are not born neutropenic (Chan et al. 1985).
            Neutropenia is a granulocyte disorder characterized by an abnormal low number of neutrophil, the most important type of white blood cell. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term leucopenia (deficit in the number of white blood cell). Neutrophil usually makeup 50-70% of the circulating white blood cells and serve as the primary defense against infection by destroying bacteria in the blood (Hsieh, 2007).
            We are aware that the main difference between traditional African diet and European diets is the absence of high level of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids in the African diet (Green et al, 1978, Fredickson, 1974). Present study shows that, if the diets of Africans changes to European type, the frequency of neutroponia will drop noticeably and if Africans had European diets from infancy neutropenia would probably disappear (Ezeilo, 1972). This is so because elevated dietary cholesterol is known to increase blood total leucocyte (Higher neutrophil counts), total cholesterol concentration low density lipoprotein concentration ( Meijer et al. 1996). This dietary components are also hypothesized to influence cardiovascular disease risk by induction of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta and coronary arteries ( Meijer et al. 1996).
            Atherosclerosis is a complex chronic disease of the cardiovascular system characterized by the accumulation of lipids within arterial walls that eventually go on to form plaques which can cause narrowing, hardening and/ or blockage of arteries (Pearson et al. 2002). One well known risk factor in human is hypercholesterolemia (I.e. elevated total cholesterol Tc) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) (Pearson et al. 2002, Martinez et al. 1988). It is characterized by focal lesion of one of the following types: fatty streak, fibrous plaques and complicated lesions. Hypothesis used to elucidate pathogenesis of atherosclerosis includes, lipid hypothesis, thrombogenic hypothesis and endothelial cell injury hypothesis (Abdelhalim et al. 1994).
            Foods high in dietary saturated fats (SF) and cholesterol (i.e. European type of diet ) have been liked to elevations in circulating cholesterol levels (in particular LDL-c) ( Hegsted et al  1965) prompting the recommendation that human limit the intake of these dietary constituents (Pearsons et al 2002). All living organisms need food (diet) for growth, source of energy and replacement of worn out and damaged tissues. There are three,(3) classes of food namely, carbohydrate, protein and fats, In addition to protein, carbohydrate and fats, diets must contain vitamins, salt, water and vegetable fibers (Ramlingam, 2001). A healthy diet supplies adequate but not excessive quantities of all these nutrients. A diet can be defective or unbalanced because it lacks one or more essential nutrients or because it contains too much of certain type/kind of food (Ramlingam, 2001).
            Traditional African diets are rich in carbohydrate and low in protein and lipids. The oil or fat content of many African diets tend to be very low. Total dietary fat provide on average 18% of total food energy in sub-Saharan Africans, but populations in some countries obtain as little as 7 to 15% of food  energy from fat (FAO, 1997, Tariq 2003). The content of animal protein also tends to be quite low. This dietary deficiencies are often as a result of the lack of money, customs, economic, social and culture (Hegsted et al. 1965, Hershamann et al, 2003, Tariq  2003, FAO, 1997). The European diets on the other hand is rich in protein and lipids and moderately low in carbohydrate (Hegsted et al. 1965, Eaton et al. 1985, Miller et al. 1994).  

            Several studies have reported that Africans have blood leucocyte counts that are persistently below the normal range for people of European descent, the difference was due principally to lower granulocyte counts, whereas absolute lymphocyte counts were actually higher in Africans. It has also been proposed that the reasons for this disparity might be primarily due to social-economic, biological and nutritional factor (Hershman et al. 2003, Oji 2011, Ezeilo 1972)
            We are aware that the main difference between traditional African diet and European diet is the absence of high level of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids in the African diets (Green et al 1978, Fredickson, 1974, Ebrahim, 2002). However, it is already well known that predisposition to cardiovascular disease is higher in subjects feeding on high lipid cholesterol, high protein and low carbohydrate European diet. Therefore, the contradiction of the effects of low carbohydrate, high protein and high cholesterol diet on the blood leucocyte count and the cardiovascular system is a problem worth considering.

1.         To investigate the effects of feeding rats on diets which mimic basic African diets (High carbohydrate, low animal protein and saturated fats) and European diet (low carbohydrate, high protein and saturated fats) on the blood leucocyte pattern of albino wistar rat.
2.         To determine the plasma concentration of total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol of rats fed as in 1 above and any possible Histological effect on the heart. 

The findings of this study will go a long way to evaluate the effects of low carbohydrate, high protein and high lipid cholesterol diet on the blood leucocyte count and on the cardiovascular system (Heart).
            Though many reports has been recorded in the scientific literature regarding the striking effect of low carbohydrate, high protein and high lipid cholesterol diet on the cardiovascular system and the leucocyte pattern of Africans, more research is still needed to consolidate these scientific record/findings. Proponents of high carbohydrate, low protein and low fat diets contend that saturated fat and cholesterol diets are the major dietary contributor to cardiovascular diseases by increasing the building of cholesterol on arteries (blood vessel) putting human at risk of heart attack, stroke and other major health problem. Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide in men and women. In many countries, heart disease is viewed as a 2nd epidemic replacing infectious disease as the leading cause of death.
            Neutropenia is common in many apparently healthy Africans  (Ezeilo,1972) but whether Neutropenia is hereditary or acquired is not certain but according to the works of Ezeilo, 1972 hematological values determined in 3 groups of Africans on different diets were compared with those of groups of European and Asians. Neutropenia was most common in Africans on native diets (82%), less common on those who periodically had European diets (55%) and least common (25%) in those having only European diet, this shows that neutropenia in Africans is non-genetic but dietary.
            Ancient Africans believed that a healthy immune system is responsible for the health and healing of the human body. From this premise, health problem occur as a result of “something” lacking in our nutrition (diet) leaving the human body vulnerable to disease. Therefore a diet and lifestyle deficient in nutrient makes us susceptible to opportunistic infections and cellular disorganization (Tariq, 2003).
            Since high saturated fat and protein diets are known to raise total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein and high neutrophil count which are associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, there is need to moderate the level of dietary cholesterol intake, engage in physical activities and yet maintain high neutrophil count.

1.5       SCOPE OF STUDY
            The study will be limited to the comparative study of the effects of African diet (rich in carbohydrate, low in protein and lipids) and European diets (rich in lipid cholesterol, proteins and low in carbohydrate) on the blood leucocyte pattern and the cardiovascular system (Heart).  The study will also be within Ebonyi state university.
          20 healthy albino wistar rats will be used for this study. The wistar rat will be fed for 12 weeks on standard rat feed and a compounded European diet consisting of red meat and egg yolk.
            Haematological parameters will be determined, plasma total cholesterol level and high density lipoprotein concentration will be determined. Histological conditions of the heart will also be examined after staining using photomicrograph examination under a light microscope.

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