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Dietary supplement lowers bad cholesterol

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday April 21, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking a combination of three dietary supplements can lower bad cholesterol in individuals with moderate hypercholesterolemia, according to a study report recently published in European Journal of Nutrition.

Nicolas Ogier and colleagues tested a combination of red yeast rice, sugar cane-derived policosanols and artichoke leaf  extracts in people with moderate hypercholesterolemia and found the combo lowered the concentration of bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein cholesterol. 

Red yeast rice (RYR), sugar cane-derived policosanols (SCdP) and artichoke leaf extracts (ALEs) are known to lower serum bad cholesterol concentrations when used individually.  The current study was intended to examine how effective a combination of the three in lowering bad cholesterol.

For the study, 39 individuals aged 21 to 55 years with moderate hypercholesterolemia without receiving statin treatment were randomly assigned to either the study group or the control group.  The study group used the combo dietary supplement and controls used a placebo for a period of 16 weeks.

Blood samples were collected at baseline, 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks to analyse "plasma concentrations of lipids [LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol (TC), high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol), triacylglycerols (TG)] and plasma levels of vitamins C and E, total polyphenols and malondialdehyde."

As a result, subjects using the dietary supplement reduced LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol by 21.4% and 14.1 %, respectively, compared with the levels at baseline.  Similar results were observed at 4, 8, and 12 weeks.  The dietary supplementation decreased triacylglycerols by 12.2% at 16 weeks of supplementation.

No change was observed in other parameters except that "for the vitamin E/TC ratio, a difference was observed between groups at week 16," as researchers reported.

Statins are very effective in lowering bad cholesterol.  But some experts argue that statins are not cost effective in individuals who have no prior heart conditions and they can cause a range of side effects. 

On the other hand, previous studies have shown that red yeast rice among other alternatives is as effective as statins in lowering bad cholesterol and no side effect has ever been reported.

The best way to prevent heart disease is not to lower cholesterol.  It has been observed that people who enjoy a longest lifespan tend to have high levels of serum cholesterThis diet can stop the progression of coronary heart disease or even reverse the condition in 99% of cases, according to China Study, a book authored by Dr. T Colin Campbell, a nutrition professor at Cornell University.

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