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Nutrients lower lipid levels in obesity

Green tea extract

Earlier studies found green tea can reduce weight by helping the body manage lipids, doctors said. In this study, 46 otherwise-healthy obese men and women, aged 30 to 60, took a daily dose of 379 mg of green tea extract plus 208 mg of ECGC–the most common antioxidant found in green tea– or a placebo. Participants did not change their diets or physical activities during the study, which were similar for both groups.

After three months, compared to placebo, the green tea group saw significant decreases in total and LDL cholesterol, an increase in HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, body mass index, and smaller waist size. Total antioxidant activity also increased, and magnesium and zinc levels improved, with increasing magnesium levels helping lower or stabilize blood sugar. Iron levels declined. Explaining their findings, doctors said green tea may help keep cholesterol and glucose from being absorbed through the walls of the small intestine.

Berberine

Obesity drugs often have serious side effects, and doctors are searching for natural products, such as the herb berberine, for safer answers. In this pilot safety study, obese people took 500 mg of berberine three times per day. After 12 weeks, berberine proved safe in preserving overall blood characteristics, and in maintaining heart, kidney, and liver function.

Beyond safety, berberine appeared to have additional benefits. Participants had lost an average of five pounds, a result doctors had expected. More surprising were a 12 percent decline in total cholesterol and a 23 percent decline in triglycerides. To reconfirm the lipids lowering effects of berberine, doctors conducted a lab animal study, which yielded similar results.

Reference: Biological Trace Element Research; May, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 23 - 2013

Vitamins and omega-3s linked to better brains

Nutrients combine to make unique “signature patterns” or profiles in the blood, and researchers in this study tested which profiles were linked to better cognitive health. Doctors measured nutrients in 104 adults without dementia, aged 77 to 97, and found that, compared to those with lower levels, those with the highest blood levels of folate, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E, and omega-3 fatty acids, scored highest on mental tests and had healthier MRI brain scans.

The brain can shrink with age, rising chances for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those in the study with the highest levels of trans-fats–partially hydrogenated oils common in highly processed and deep fried foods–scored lowest on mental tests and had signs of brain shrinkage. Doctors said we already knew trans-fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol levels and are bad for the heart, but this is the first study to link trans-fats and brain health. “It is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” researchers concluded.

Leucine helps maintain muscle mass

The body needs proteins to maintain muscle mass, and its ability to make and use proteins declines with age. In this study, eight people, everage age 68, took 4 grams of the branched-chain amino acid leucine with each of three meals per day. Researchers compared muscle biopsies and blood samples before the study and after 14 days and found significantly higher rates of protein formation and increased signs of cellular muscle-building activity. Doctors said the low dose of leucine may make it easier to maintain muscle mass with age.

Reference: Neurology; 2012, Vol. 78, No. 4, 241-9

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on September - 7 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

In earlier studies, recipes using flax had lower glycemic index scores than recipes without flax, leading doctors to test flax in type 2 diabetes. In the study, 29 people with type 2 diabetes took 10 grams of flax seed powder per day, or a placebo. After one month, compared to the start of the study, while the placebo group had not changed, those who took flax seed powder had 20 percent lower fasting blood sugar, and 16 percent lower long-term blood sugar levels; 14 percent lower total fat levels, 18 percent lower LDL–the “bad” cholesterol–and a 12 percent increase in HDL–the “good” cholesterol.

 

Reference: Journal of Dietary Supplements; 2011, Vol. 8, No. 3, 257-65

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on August - 11 - 2012
categories: Supplements

Supplement reduces cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity

Doctors said that 3 in 10 people discontinue taking statin drugs after six months due to side effects. In this study, 80 people with high cholesterol, aged at least 75, who refused to continue taking statins or other pharmaceutical treatments, took a nutritional supplement or a placebo. The supplement contained 500 mg goldenseal, 200 mg red yeast rice, 10 mg policosanol, 2 mg coenzyme Q10, 500 mcg astaxanthin, and 200 mcg folic acid per day.

After 12 months, the supplement group saw 20 percent lower total cholesterol levels, 31 percent lower LDL cholesterol, and 10 percent less insulin resistance. Doctors said the supplement was safe and there were no side effects.

Garlic reduces total cholesterol and triglycerides

Because people are more interested in finding alternative treatments for managing lipids in the blood, doctors analyzed results from 26 garlic studies. Doses in the studies included 600 to 900 mg of garlic powder, 8 to 15 mg of garlic oil, or 1.8 to 7.2 mg of aged garlic extract per day.

Those who began the study with higher total cholesterol levels, and who continued taking garlic over a longer term saw the most benefit. Garlic powder and aged garlic extract were more effective in reducing total cholesterol levels, while garlic oil best lowered triglyceride, or total lipid levels. Overall, compared to placebo, garlic in all forms reduced total cholesterol by 5.4 percent and triglycerides by 6.5 percent. Doctors concluded that garlic therapy should benefit those who have higher chances of heart disease.

Reference: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture; January, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the June 2012 newsletter

 

 

Van's Health on July - 19 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements

Flaxseed lowered cholesterol, improved liver health

In this study, 30 men with moderately high cholesterol, 180 to 240 mg/dL, took 20 mg of flaxseed lignan capsules per day, 100 mg per day, or a placebo. After 12 weeks, those who had taken 100 mg of flaxseed had a much lower ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, both compared to the start of the study and compared to placebo.

High triglyceride levels and obesity can also cause elevated liver enzymes. Researchers found that the 100 mg flaxseed group had lower blood levels of two liver enzymes–a sign that inflammation and cell damage in the liver had decreased–compared to the start of the study and to placebo.

EPA promotes healthy blood clotting–in men

Platelets are cells that help the blood clot normally and begin the wound-healing process. Too little platelet activity leads to excess bleeding, but too much can impair healing, block blood flow , and lead to heart attack or stroke. Researchers said earlier lab studies suggested eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) my help normalize platelet activity in men more than women. In this study, 15 men took EPA, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or a placebo. Doctors measured platelet activity before and several times during the next 24 hours. While DHA was not effective, EPA reduced platelet activity 11 percent after two hours and 20 percent after 24 hours. Study authors concluded EPA effectively interacts with male sex hormones to normalize platelet activity, reducing chances of heart attack and stroke.

Reference: Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease; 2010, Electronic Prepublication

From the June 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 15 - 2011
categories: Supplements, Vitamins
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