A Commentary from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition
27 March 2014 Taylor & Francis
Many Americans are led to believe that high blood cholesterol as a result of heavy saturated fat intake causes cardiovascular disease. As such, Statin drugs are often prescribed to curb CVD risk by lowering cholesterol. This conventional knowledge is boldly challenged, however, by a new paper available from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the Official Publication of the American College of Nutrition and a publication from Routledge.
While many studies show a correlation between high cholesterol and CVD, this alone does not prove a “cause-and-effect” relationship. “In fact,” the authors point out, “if analyzed carefully, there are more studies that disprove the ‘cause and effect’ hypothesis than even come close to proving it.” A trend of vilifying saturated fats based on flawed research is traced back through the second half of the 20th century, eventually meeting overdue criticism in a 2010 meta-analysis and a 2012 paper contrasting scientific literature with U.S. and European advisory committee guidelines.
While saturated fats have been blamed for causing CVD, more recent scientific literature points instead to processed sugars, trans-fats, and starchy/processed high-glycemic carbs as the more likely culprits. “Our nutritional courts,” the authors claim, “tried and convicted the wrong man.”
Statin drugs designed to treat high levels of LDL cholesterol began to be widely prescribed in 2001. The commentary authors suggest that “We must treat the patient thoughtfully and choose statin drugs carefully with extreme diligence to avoid unnecessary side effects.”
While these drugs have been linked to lower risk of CVD, numerous studies and clinical trials over the past decade have forced the medical community to re-examine the role of LDL cholesterol in statin use benefits. Some even began to demonstrate that reducing LDL alone was counterproductive in reducing some measures of CVD risk. As such, the authors advocate a more creative and thorough approach to addressing CVD risk, free of the “dogmatic polices” built around saturated fat and cholesterol centric thinking.
The commentary authors invoke legendary physician Francis W. Peabody in support of their convictions, quoted as saying, “The most important aspect in the care of the patient, is the care of the patient.”
Of the many risk factors associated with heart health and cardiovascular disease (CVD), the primary targets of natural products are cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood flow, endothelial function, atherosclerotic plaque formation and heart rate/rhythm. The broader view considers the effects of natural ingredients on various cardiac events, in preventing and limiting damage, as well as aiding recovery.
Natural Products Insider featured an article that showcases over seventy studies using, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, CoQ10 and numerous other nutritional supplements to impact cholesterol and heart disease.
It’s a good start next time your doctor tells you there isn’t enough research on foods and nutritional supplements.
DAVIS, Calif.—Two new studies by University of California Davis researchers suggest grape seed extract may benefit hypertension, cholesterol and glycemic response. For the trials, scientists used patented grape seed extracts from Polyphenolics; the results were published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences and Functional Foods in Health and Disease.
Pre-hypertension affects approximately 31% of the adult population of the United States over the age of 18 years. It is defined in the 7th report of the Joint National Committee (JNC – 7) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure as a systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg.
JNC-7 also recommended that individuals considered to be prehypertensive require health-promoting lifestyle modifications to prevent cardiovascular disease.
This study was undertaken to determine whether a grape seed extract (GSE) which is a nutraceutical containing vasodilator phenolic compounds lowers blood pressure in subjects with pre-hypertension.
The subjects were randomized into a placebo or an experimental group (GSE at a dose of 300 mg/day) and treated for 8 weeks. Serum lipids and blood glucose were measured at the beginning of the study and at the end.
The blood pressure was recorded using an ambulatory monitoring device at the start of the treatment period and at the end. Both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly lower after treatment with GSE. Treatment with the placebo had no effect on blood pressure. There were no significant changes in serum lipids or blood glucose values. These findings suggest that GSE could be used as a nutraceutical in a lifestyle modification program for patients with pre-hypertension.
In the first study, researchers found Polyphenolics’ MegaNatural-BP grape seed extract to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (J Pharm Nutr Sci 2012, DOI: 10.6000/1927-5951). The 32 pre-hypertensive adults took either 300 mg of grape seed extract daily or a placebo for eight weeks.
UC Davis researchers also investigated the effect of grape seed extract’s polyphenols on cholesterol levels and glycemic responses in metabolic syndrome (J of FFHD 2012, 2(12):508-521). Volume 2, No. 12.
Published in Functional Foods in Health and Disease, this study gave 12 participants either grape seed extract or a placebo one hour before eating a high-fat, high-carbohydrate breakfast. Plasma glucose concentrations were significantly lower for the grape seed extract group.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. The body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can stick to the walls of the arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can the arteries or even block them. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age. There are usually no signs or symptoms that indicate high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. Chances of having high cholesterol would include if family members have it, being overweight or eating a lot of fatty foods.
Coenzyme Q10’s benefits are due to the following two attributes. First, Co-Q10 is an important fat-soluble antioxidant that is uniquely able to protect the cells’ energy producing machinery, known as mitochondria, from free radical damage. Second, coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the production of energy in all cells of the body.
A study published in the journal IUBMB Life investigated whether Co-Q10 supplementation could reduce cholesterol levels through gene expression patterns. The researchers recruited 53 healthy males with an average age of 30 and were randomly supplemented with the reduced form of Co-Q10 (ubiquinol, Q10H2) at 150 mg daily for two weeks. The results were a 4.8-fold increase in CoQ10 plasma levels after supplementation. Gene expression patterns involved in inflammation, cell death and cell differentiation was identified. A 12.7 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol levels was reported. â€œQ10H2 induces characteristic gene expression patterns, which are translated into reduced LDL cholesterol levels and altered parameters of [red blood cell production or] erythropoiesis in humans,â€ the scientists concluded.
Schmelzer C, Niklowitz P, Okun JG, et al. Ubiquinol-induced gene expression signatures are translated into altered parameters of erythropoiesis and reduced low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in humans. IUBMB Life Jan2011;63(1):42-8.