Kava use, dyslipidaemia and biomarkers of dietary quality in Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia

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Heavy kava use has been associated with sudden death in Aboriginal Australians in Arnhem Land (Northern Territory, Australia) where poor diets and a high incidence of premature coronary heart disease are known. Heavy kava users may suffer additional risk if further malnourished. Among 98 people (62 males, 36 females) in one community, 36 never used kava, 26 were past users, and 36 were continuing users. Across kava-using groups skinfold thickness, body mass index and body fat decreased. Total- and LDL-cholesterol were elevated in kava users compared to both former users and never users. HDL-cholesterol was higher in current users vs never users. Across kava-using groups, triglycerides, homocysteine and diet-derived antioxidant vitamins α-tocopherol and retinol, did not vary. Plasma carotenoid levels (indicative of vegetable and fruit intake) were very low, but when adjusted for plasma cholesterol, did not vary between kava-using groups. An obsession for kava drinking may mediate kava's direct effects on nutritional status.

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