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    Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?


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    Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?

    Post by yoly on Tue Apr 26 2016, 11:00

    Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?

    25 April 2016 Cardiff University

    Fish oil, cocoa extract and phytosterols could offer new hope in fight against disease

    Combining marine fish oil, cocoa extract and phytosterols into a dietary supplement could offer new hope in the fight against heart disease, a new study suggests.

    A collaborative study between Cardiff University scientists and South Wales-based nutritional supplement manufacturer, Cultech Ltd, examined the potential of combining the three ingredients as a means of preventing atherosclerosis or ‘furring’ of the arteries.

    Using a series of cell-based experimental models, the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found combining the three ingredients helped inhibit key processes associated with the progression of atherosclerosis.

    Dr Dipak Ramji from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences who co-authored the study said: “A variety of active food ingredients have been shown to impart beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease although little is known regarding their actions when taken in combination.

    “Therefore we set out to examine what happens when you combine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in marine fish oil), flavanols (found in cocoa) and phytosterols.

    “The study found, in cell-based models, that combining the three ingredients could, potentially, help halt the progression of atherosclerosis. The challenge now is to take our findings and examine whether they translate into humans.

    “Ultimately, our common goal is to help prevent people from developing atherosclerosis, and this collaborative work opens up new avenues for further research on the use of nutritional products in the prevention and treatment of the condition.”

    Atherosclerosis is the major cause of heart disease, killing approximately one individual every 34 seconds and responsible for around a third of all deaths worldwide.

    Current therapies against atherosclerosis are not fully effective and there have been numerous recent disappointments on promising agents that have been identified through various drug discovery programs.

    Dr Daryn Michael, Senior Research Scientist at Cultech Limited, added: “Dr Ramji and his team have been instrumental in facilitating innovative research in this field and we are hopeful that continued collaboration will give rise to further successful projects in the future.”

    Full bibliographic information
    A Unique Combination of Nutritionally Active Ingredients Can Prevent Several Key Processes Associated with Atherosclerosis In Vitro; Joe W. E. Moss, Thomas S. Davies, Iveta Garaiova, Sue F. Plummer, Daryn R. Michael , Dipak P. Ramji; PLOS;

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    Re: Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?

    Post by Eddie on Tue Apr 26 2016, 13:45

    Evidence suggests stanols and sterols are ‘good’ for cholesterol but bad for health

    by Dr John Briffa on 1 August 2013 in Cholesterol and Statins

    Three weeks ago, one of my blogs focused on the presumed benefits of food products containing plant substances known as stanols or sterols. These partially block absorption of cholesterol from the gut and therefore can reduce blood cholesterol levels. The point I made in that blog, though, was that the impact these foods products have on cholesterol is quite irrelevant, it’s the impact they have on health that counts. No studies exist which demonstrate that stanols and sterols actually improve health, and this fact has not escaped the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, which actually advises against the use of stanols and sterols.

    The fact is, no published studies have tested the impact of stanols or sterols on human health in the long term. One may argue that this is not an issue because we know that cholesterol reduction is beneficial and, so the benefits are almost assured and, anyway, what harm can they do?

    Well, the evidence shows that when we take dietary steps to reduce cholesterol through reducing fat in the diet or substituting saturated fat for ‘healthier’ fats, it does not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke or overall risk of death [1]. This, obviously, casts some doubt on the validity of the assumption that dietary reduction of cholesterol is necessarily a good thing.

    The other issue though concerns safety. How do we know if we do not have the long-term studies of the use of stanols and sterols in humans that are even safe? Again, one may argue what’s the harm, seeing as they’re ‘plant-derived’. Well, it turns out there is quite a body of evidence which suggests far from being the wonder-chemicals we’ve been lead to believe them to be, stanols and sterols may pose real and significant risks to health.

    The research was summarized in a 2009 paper published in the European Heart Journal [1].

    Several studies link the presence of higher levels of sterols in the blood stream with raised risk of cardiovascular disease [2-7]. This evidence is epidemiological, which means we cannot conclude from it that sterols actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (only that the two are associated with each other). However, more incriminating evidence comes of studies in which the effects of sterols have been tested on tissues or animals in the lab.

    In one study, feeding animals with sterols increased what is known as ‘endothelial dysfunction’ – unhealthy chances on the inside of blood vessels associated increased cardiovascular disease risk. The sterols also led to animals having strokes bigger in size than when no sterols were consumed [8].

    In another study, sterols led to an increased level of damaging oxidation and release of free oxygen radicals (oxidative stress) compared to cholesterol, which suggests a greater capacity to induce chronic disease (including cardiovascular disease) [9]. Sterols have also been shown to induce cell death (what is known as ‘apoptosis’), including in the cells which line human blood vessels (endothelial cells) [10]. In another experiment, giving plant sterols to rats (with high blood pressure and prone to stroke) shortened their life spans [11].

    In summary, there is no evidence that stanols and sterols benefit human health, and quite a few lines of evidence that suggest these substances have potential for harm. Yes, this is the stuff that is marketed on the basis of their assumed value for heart health.

    The use of stanols and sterols is supported by the British Heart Foundation (as I write about in the blog post I link to above). I have written to this organisation regarding the evidence, and am interested to see what comes back.


    1. Weingartner O, et al Controversial role of plant sterol esters in the management of hypercholesterolaemia. Europlean Heart Journal 2009;30:404-409

    2. Relationships of serum plant sterols (phytosterols) and cholesterol in 595 hypercholesterolemic subjects, and familial aggregation of phytosterols, cholesterol, and premature coronary heart disease in hyperphytosterolemic probands and their first-degree relatives. Metabolism 1991;40:842–848

    3. Independent association of serum squalene and noncholesterol sterols with coronary artery disease in postmenopausal women. J Am Coll Cardiol 2000;35:1185–1191

    4. Association of plasma noncholesterol sterol levels with severity of coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 1998;8:386–391

    5. Baseline serum cholestanol as predictor of recurrent coronary events in subgroup of Scandinavian simvastatin survival study. Finnish 4S Investigators. BMJ 1998;316:1127–1130

    6. Plasma sitosterol elevations are associated with an increased incidence of coronary events in men: results of a nested case-control analysis of the Prospective Cardiovascular Munster (PROCAM) study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2006;16:13–21

    7. Abstract 4099: elevated campesterol serum levels–a significant predictor of incident myocardial infarction: results of the population-based MONICA/KORA follow-up study 1994–2005. Circulation 2006;114:II_884

    8. Vascular effects of diet supplementation with plant sterols. J Am Coll Cardiol 2008;51:1553–1561

    9. Oxidized plant sterols in human serum and lipid infusions as measured by combined gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Lipid Res 2001;42:2030–2038

    10. Beneficial or harmful influence of phytosterols on human cells? Br J Nutr 2008;100:1183–1191

    11. Vegetable oils high in phytosterols make erythrocytes less deformable and shorten the life span of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Nutr 2000;130:1166–1178

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    Re: Could a combined dietary supplement help ward off heart disease?

    Post by chris c on Wed Apr 27 2016, 19:24

    Well I eat fish and grass-fed meat, 85% chocolate and a wide range of veggies many of which contain various micronutrients, and I'm not dead yet!

    Sod the pill, visit your local shops.

    I found this recently, I suspect linked from Malcolm Kendrick's amazing and ongoing series on "what causes heart disease". Quite astonishing that this hasn't been trumpeted from the rooftops as "proof that low fat diets are finally working"

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