Don’t Let Lipids Weigh You Down

beta-glucan and flaxseed lower cholesterol in two studies

Cholesterol is a conundrum. Too little, and your body notices the difference. You need the right amount of cholesterol to maintain mood, support the brain, and during pregnancy, among other things. On the other hand, if you have too much cholesterol, it can become a bad thing in your system. Excess lipids often oxidize, which can do damage to your arteries and veins beyond the “clumps” of fat that threaten your cardiovascular system.

In these studies,  researchers have looked at how nutrients may support normal cholesterol levels.

Nutrients lower cholesterol in two new studies


Beta-glucan from oats and barley can reduce chances of heart disease by lowering lipids, but results from earlier studies on those with high cholesterol have been inconsistent. In this study, researchers reviewed 17 clinical trials covering 916 people with high cholesterol.

Overall, beta-glucan significantly lowered total and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels, by 6.5 and 6.3 percent, respectively. Participants reported no side effects from taking beta-glucan in any of the trials.

Discussing the findings, doctors said that the positive results suggest beta-glucan may improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels, and that public health officials should consider recommending beta-glucan as part of a targeted dietary program to safely and affordably lower cholesterol and improve public health.
Reference: Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases; April, 2015, Published Online


Earlier studies found flaxseed lowered cholesterol in those with mild signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In this study, doctors tested flaxseed in those with more advanced CVD, including those taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

In the study, 58 people with peripheral artery disease—a type of CVD—took 30 grams of milled flaxseed per day, or a whole wheat placebo. After one month, for those not taking statin drugs, while there was no change for placebo, the flaxseed group saw total cholesterol decline by 11 percent and LDL cholesterol by 15 percent.

In the statin group, after 12 months, while the placebo group saw LDL cholesterol increase by 3 percent, those taking flaxseed saw LDL cholesterol decline by 8.5 percent. Doctors said flaxseed is safe for those taking medication for peripheral artery disease, and can enhance the cholesterol-lowering effects of statin drugs.
Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; 2015, Vol. 145, No. 4, 749-57

Images courtesy of by Viacheslav Blizniuk and tiverlucky
Images courtesy of by Viacheslav Blizniuk and tiverlucky

Better Lipids with Salmon Oil

Lipids store energy in the body, but oxidation can degrade these fat-like molecules, increasing chances for health problems. In this study, 160 healthy adults took 3 or 6 grams of salmon oil along with a multivitamin, or 6 grams of salmon oil alone, per day. One gram of salmon oil provided 80 mg each of EPA and DHA. After 16 weeks, while there was no change in the 3-gram group, both 6-gram salmon oil groups had significantly lower levels of oxidized lipid byproducts. As signs of oxidation decreased, polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels in red blood cells increased, suggesting salmon oil may help preserve health.
Reference: Journal of Functional Foods; November, 2014, Published Online

Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider, especially if you have a medical condition or take medication, before beginning a new supplement. For example, flax seed and salmon oil also thin blood.

Article copyright 2016 by Natural Insights for Well Being.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.