As we woefully bid adieu to the delectable delights of Thanksgiving, we have officially entered the most tempting time of the year as far as our diets are concerned. From Grandma’s favorite recipes to the delectable cherry chocolates and homemade fudge we all love, our holiday world is full of foods we may adore but that do not love us.
If you have normal cholesterol levels, you are doing something right. According to the CDC, one in six adult Americans are not so fortunate.
May you truly take these articles on normal cholesterol and supplements to heart.
Lower Cholesterol Naturally
Plant-based nutrients improve lipids in four weeks
Chlorella helped those with mildly elevated cholesterol levels
Recent research supports the idea that healthy diets and certain foods can reduce chances of heart problems. In this study, 68 men and women with total cholesterol levels from 200 to 250 mg/dL took a placebo or 5 grams of chlorella, divided into three doses, one with each meal of the day.
After four weeks, while there were no significant changes for placebo, those taking chlorella had 1.6 percent lower total cholesterol, 10.3 percent lower triglycerides, an 11 percent decline in very-low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL, the “bad” cholesterol, and a 4 percent increase in HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Circulating levels of lutein, zeaxanthin, and alpha-carotene, all important antioxidants, also increased.
Discussing their findings, doctors said the cholesterol-lowering effects may be due to the high fiber, high antioxidant content of chlorella, and that the differences between the placebo and chlorella groups in the study indicate, “True supplement effects.”
Reference: Nutrition Journal; 2014, Vol. 13, No. 57, Published Online
Betsy’s Note: Chlorella also thins blood. Consult your healthcare provider.
Protecting the Heart
Nutrients lowered bad and raised good cholesterol levels
Probiotics reduced LDL
Many people are aware that high levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, raise chances for heart problems, but far fewer know that a healthy gut—the stomach and intestines—also plays an important role in maintaining heart health. Doctors in this study reviewed 26 clinical trials and two large analyses on the effects of probiotics on LDL. Of all probiotic strains, L. reuteri lowered LDL and total cholesterol most, and reduced signs of inflammation significantly.
Participants who took L. reuteri twice per day for nine weeks had levels of LDL cholesterol 11.6 percent lower than placebo.
Discussing their findings, doctors said that people know probiotics for digestive health but do not think of probiotics for heart health, adding, “It’s time to recognize probiotics’ role as a simple and natural tool to manage cholesterol,” and recommend people add probiotics to their diet and exercise program to manage heart health.
Reference: Nutrition Reviews; 2014, Vol. 72, No. 1, 18-29
Grape extract raised good cholesterol
HDL—the “good” cholesterol—helps protect against heart and circulatory problems. In this study, 24 men and women who were overweight, pre-diabetic, or had elevated blood pressure, took a placebo or 350 mg of whole grape extract per day.
After six weeks, those in the whole grape extract group had much higher levels of HDL compared to placebo, and signs of oxidative stress and oxidized LDL decreased significantly for the whole grape group while increasing for placebo. Oxidized LDL is pro-inflammatory and plays a role in vascular disease.
Whole grape extract contains concentrations of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, including catechin, epicatechin, and epicatechin-3-O-gallate. Doctors said the findings are important for people such as those in the study with greater chances of heart and circulatory problems, and that raising levels of HDL helps protect the heart.
Reference: Journal of Functional Foods; 2014, Vol. 7, 680-91
Betsy’s Note: Grape extract also thins blood. Consult your healthcare provider.
For those of you on statin drugs for cholesterol, remember that while these drugs are doing their job, they deplete the body of CoQ10, which is an important antioxidant for muscle support, including, ironically, your body’s most important muscle–the heart!