Diet Rich in Fiber, Phytosterols, Soy Protein, and Nuts Cuts LDL-Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk

November 02, 2004

Over the past two decades, cholesterol lowering drugs have proven to be effective and have been found to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, a good diet and a healthy lifestyle are still recognized as the first line of intervention for CHD risk reduction by the National Cholesterol Education Program and the American Heart Association. They now both advocate consuming viscous fibers and plant sterols, Soy Protein, and some nuts.

In a series of controlled studies, these researchers have combined these four cholesterol-lowering dietary components (fiber, phytosterols, soy protein, and nuts) in the same diet in an attempt to achieve the greatest reduction in LDL-cholesterol. The researchers have found that the portfolio diet including these four reduced LDL-cholesterol by approximately 30% and achieved clinically significant reductions in CHD risk. These reductions are the same as found with a starting dose of a first-generation statin drug (Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and Mevacor, are first generation statins, [so was Baycol], Crestor is a second generation statin). The studies were performed at the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, and is published in the November 2004 issue of the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Considering the lack of toxicity and additional health benefits from these nutrients it is silly for most people not to try them first.

Vitamin E

Respiratory tract infections are prevalent in the elderly often resulting in severe illness, trips to the doctor, hospital admission, and death. Supplementing with vitamin E has improved the immune system response to infection in the elderly. This study examines the level of clinical benefit of vitamin E supplementation. 617 elderly nursing home residents from 33 different facilities took part in this study over a 28 month period. All of the participants were given a low-dose multiple-vitamin, and then some received a vitamin E supplement and some received placebo. The vitamin E group had fewer upper respiratory tract infections and fewer colds than the placebo group. The study is published in the August 18th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

5 New Green Tea Studies

  1. The major polyphenol in Green Tea, EGCG, dramatically suppressed the experimental induction of autoimmune encephalomyelitis (experimentally induced animal Multiple Sclerosis). Also, after the experimental version of MS was initiated, EGCG limited brain inflammation, and brain nerve damage, reducing clinical severity. In living brain tissue EGCG directly blocked the formation of neurotoxic free radicals. EGCG inhibited immune cells from causing inflammation and destruction in human myelin tissue. EGCG may open up a new therapeutic avenue for young, disabled adults with inflammatory brain disease by combining on one hand, anti-inflammatory, and on the other hand, neuroprotective capacities. Institute of Neuroimmunology, Neuroscience Research Center, Charite, Berlin, and Published in the November 2004 issue of The Journal of Immunology.
  2. Green Teas major polyphenol, EGCG was added to human leukemia cells (HL-60 cells). EGCG causes the death of these leukemia cells. To see how EGCG regulates the death of these cells a DNA study was performed. EGCG affected 97 genes out of a possible 8398. Some genes were stimulated by EGCG (39 genes) and some genes were inhibited 58 genes), showing that EGCG's ability to destroy these leukemia cells is a progressive transformation process regulated by a variety of genes (it is very complex). Tea and Health laboratory, Central-South University Xiangya School of Medicine, Hunan, China and is published in the November 22nd, 2004 issue of the journal Mutation Research.
  3. Activation of immune cells in the brain and spine (microglial cells) is a pivotal step in several neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. EGCG inhibits the activation of these cells and inhibits the formation of chemicals that trigger destruction of central nervous system tissue. Additionally, EGCG protected dopaminergic receptor sites from damage (the sites damaged in Parkinson's disease). The study is published in the October 11th, 2004 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research.
  4. After a heart attack, when blood starts to rush back into the heart, massive heart muscle tissue damage takes place, this is called ischemic reperfusion injury. Male rats were subjected to 30 minutes of myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart as in a heart attack), then subjected to up to 2 hours of reperfusion. At the end of ischemia, and throughout reperfusion, rats were treated with either EGCG or placebo. In placebo treated rats there was extensive infiltration of immune cells into the heart muscle, with heart inflammation and extensive heart injury. In the rats treated with EGCG (from Green tea) there was reduced inflammation and immune activity in the heart and reduced damage to the heart muscle. The results of this study suggests that EGCG is useful for preventing the damage to the heart caused by a heart attack. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Critical Care Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, and published in the January-June 2004 issue of the journal Molecular Medicine.
  5. Tamoxifen is a chemotherapeutic drug used to decrease the risk of breast cancer in high risk women, and used to treat existing breast cancer. High concentrations of the Green Tea catechin EGCG, inhibits the proliferation of many different cancer cell types. Low levels of EGCG was toxic to estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells, and increased the effectiveness of tamoxifen in highly malignant estrogen receptor negative cells (MDA-MB=231 cells). From the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and published in the October 15th, 2004 issue of the journal Anticancer Drugs.