Dietary supplement lowers bad cholesterol

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By David Liu, PHD

Saturday Aug 25, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Red yeast rice, sugar cane-derived policosanols and artichoke leaf extracts are known to be able to lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease.  A new study in European Journal of Nutrition tested a combination of these supplements to see how effective it is in lowering bad cholesterol and as a result confirmed the efficacy in reducing serum levels of LDL.

In a double-blind, randomized, parallel controlled study led by French sicnetists Nicolas Ogier and colleagues , 39 subjects aged 21 to 55 years who had moderate hypercholesterolemia, but did not receive drug treatment were assigned to receive either a new dietary supplement consisting of red yeast rice, sugar-cancer derived policosanols and artichoke leaf extracts or a placebo for 16 weeks.

At baseline, 4, 8, 12 and 15 weeks of treatment, serum concentrations of lipids [LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol (TC), high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol), triacylglycerols (TG)] and serum levels of vitamins C and E, total polyphenols and malondialdehyde were measured.

It was found that LDL-cholesterol and triacylglycerols were decreased by 21.4%. 14.1% respectively at week 16, compared to those measured at baseline.  serum LDL cholesterol was also found lower at 4, 8 and 12 weeks.

The reduction in triacylglycerols at 16 weeks was 12.2% in the study group. A difference in the vitamin E/triacylglycerols ratio was observed at week 16 between the study group and the placebo group.

No other parameter were changed.

The researchers concluded "Daily consumption of this new DS (dietary supplement) decreased LDL-cholesterol and TC and is therefore an interesting, convenient aid in managing mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia."

Statins are the common medications people use to effectively lower cholesterol.  But research suggests that dietary supplements like red yeast rice may be more effective than statins which have been found not cost effective in those who have had no prior heart disease.

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