Tag Archives: LDL

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Nuts for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

In our third and final post in recognition of National Olive Oil Month, today’s article will review research on primary prevention of cardiovascular disease using a Mediterranean-style diet.

The Mediterranean Diet loosely defined is inspired by the eating habits of those countries who surround the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Italy and Greece. This diet emphasizes high consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as olive oil. There is more emphasis on fresh fish and less emphasis on red meats. Moderate wine consumption is also considered to be a component.

A group of researchers affiliated with the PREDIMED Study in Spain designed a study to examine the effects of a Mediterranean-style diet on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in a group considered to be at high cardiovascular risk.

Enrollees did not have a history of cardiovascular disease at the time of enrollment. The enrollees did have either type 2 diabetes, or at least 3 of the major risk factors of family history of premature coronary heart disease, high LDL, hypertension, low HDL, obese or overweight, or smoking.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups- a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a second group which followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented by nuts, or a third control group which was instructed to follow a low fat diet. Those in the extra-virgin oil group were instructed to consume at least four tablespoons of oil each day. Those in the nut-supplemented group received 30 grams of mixed nuts each day (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts). Participants adherence to each assigned diet was assessed by a food questionnaire. Subjects were followed on average for nearly 5 years. Primary end point was death from cardiovascular causes, heart attack, or stroke.

The researchers discovered that the Mediterranean-style diet, when either supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, was associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular events over a period of 5 years, then was the low-fat control diet. In addition, among those who more closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet the cardiovascular benefit was greater.

Important points to consider regarding this study include- enrolled high risk subjects without a history of cardiovascular disease, and examined primary (not secondary) prevention. Also, these diets were not calorie restricted. Primary prevention is especially important, as that is what a lot of folks are concerned about.

This study leads to the veritable mountain of research showing that a proper diet can help or in this case prevent significant health issues. Perhaps give this some thought with the next trip to the grocery store or fast-food drive through window.

“Knowledge is the food of the soul.”–  Plato

(Source- New England Journal of Medicine 2018; 378)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Tea Lowers Bad Cholesterol

April 21st is National Tea Day in the UK, and this post is the second in recognition of this important day. This post will examine research regarding black tea and cholesterol.

Tea remains one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages. It is estimated that the size of the global tea market is more than $70 billion. While coffee remains more popular than tea in the US, Americans still drink their fair share of tea, averaging over 8 gallons per capita consumption. Nearly a quarter of Americans drink tea daily.

A group of researchers in China investigated the relationship between black tea consumption and cholesterol parameters. They performed a review and meta-analysis of ten studies, which included over 400 participants.

The researchers discovered that the consumption of black tea led to a significant reduction in LDL concentration. LDL is the low density or so-called “bad cholesterol”. LDL contributes to the build-up of fat in the arteries, or atherosclerosis.

Given the possible reduction in “bad cholesterol”, consider tea as a healthy beverage choice. And celebrate National Tea Day!

“But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.” – Jane Austen

(Source- Clinical Nutrition, 2014)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Black Cumin Helps With Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

blackcumin1

Today’s post is about metabolic syndrome and lipids, another in our series of blogs for Cholesterol Education Month.

Black cumin (Nigella Sativa) is an annual flowering plant found in southern Europe, southwest Asia and north Africa. The black cumin seeds have long been used as a spice in both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Written references to black cumin appear in ancient texts, and the Book of Isaiah (28: 25,27) references cumin seeds. Modern research has focused on the pharmacologic properties of black cumin.

A group of researchers in Pakistan recently performed an interesting study in which they looked at black cumin to treat the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (also known as insulin resistance). There are five metabolic risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, these include large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good cholesterol”), high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar. Having at least three of these five symptoms is considered to be a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Recent data estimates from 2011-2012 show that 35% of all U.S. adults and 50% of those 60 years and older meet the criteria of metabolic syndrome. As metabolic syndrome is very often a precursor to diabetes this is a national health issue of first order.

The researchers enrolled 159 subjects into the study, of which there was a black cumin supplemented group, and a non-supplemented group. All subjects were recently diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, and the study included both men and women, ages 25-65 years.  All subjects were on a standard treatment regimen for metabolic syndrome, including pharmaceutical medicines such as atenolol, clopidogrel, enalapril, metformin, and simvastatin. In addition the black cumin group took Nigella seeds in a capsule form 250 mg twice daily. The study ran for six weeks.

Several clinical parameters of metabolic syndrome were measured, both at the start of the study and then again at conclusion. These included body mass index (BMI), circumference of the abdomen and hip, body weight, waist-hip ratio, blood pressure, blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad cholesterol”), triglycerides, and HDL.

At the conclusion of the six-week trial the clinical parameters were again measured. There were improvements in all parameters, both in the standard treatment group as well as in the black cumin supplemented group, as one would expect. In addition, in the black cumin seed group, there was a statistically significant improvement in fasting blood sugar, LDL and HDL, over the standard treatment (non black cumin seed supplemented) group. To see a statistically significant improvement in just six weeks is profound.

Metabolic syndrome is a serious health issue, not only in the U.S., but world-wide. Proper diet and exercise are a mainstay of treatment, as well as medications. Part of the solution may well be use of ancient or traditional foods, such as black cumin.

(Source- African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol. 11948), June 2012).

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Pantothenic Acid Helps Lower Cholesterol

vitaminB

September is designated as Cholesterol Education Month. Several of our blogs this month will address issues related to cholesterol.

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is an essential nutrient and water-soluble vitamin. Pantothenic acid is found in many foods, including meats, nuts, whole grains and vegetables such as avocados and broccoli. Pantothenic acid is converted in the body into a related compound called pantethine, which is more biologically active.

A recent study by a multi-national research team looked at using pantethine in a group of subjects who were considered low to moderate risk for cardiovascular disease. This group would ordinarily be considered candidates for statin medications to lower their cholesterol.

This was a randomized placebo controlled trial. Both the placebo group and the pantethine treatment group started the study with four weeks of dietary therapies. After four weeks, patients were placed at random into either a placebo group or a pantethine treated group. Labs were checked at the start of the study, then at weeks 2, 4, 8, 12, and finally at week 16, at which time the study was concluded.

Participants in the pantethine group received 600 mg/day from week 1 through week 8, and then 900 mg/day from week 9 to week 16. Subjects received the pantethine in the form of a pharmaceutical grade proprietary product.

At conclusion, the participants who received pantethine had a 6% decrease in total cholesterol and a 11% drop in LDL, compared to baseline levels. In addition, hs-crp an inflammatory marker dropped over the 16 week study period. In general, there were few significant side effects with the pantethine therapy.

This study demonstrates that the commonly available substance pantethine present in a variety of food sources or as by supplement such as used in this study was helpful in lowering cholesterol and appears to be well tolerated.

(Source- Vascular Health and Risk Management 2014:10)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

High Cholesterol? Try Walnuts.

Walnuts4

“The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat”.

Albert Einstein

This is the second in a series of three blog posts in honor of National Walnut Day, detailing recent research regarding walnuts. This post will look at research from the Harvard School of Public Health, which examined the effects of walnut consumption on cholesterol.

Harvard researchers gathered data from 13 previously published studies on walnuts, which involved 365 participants in total. The various studies lasted from 4-24 weeks. Participants were placed into either walnut supplemented groups or control groups.

Researchers reported that the total cholesterol dropped 4.9% in the walnut diet group, while LDL (“bad cholesterol”) dropped 6.7% in the walnut diet group, compared to the control groups.The changes in total cholesterol and LDL were both statistically significant. Triglycerides also dropped in the walnut diet group, but this did not reach statistical significance. It is also important to note that weight did not change during the course of the studies.

This well done meta-analysis adds to the growing body of evidence in support of the health benefits of walnuts.

(Source- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009;90:56-63)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does is create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.