High Alpha-Linolenic Acid Diet Decreases Inflammation and Cholesterol in Both Men and Women with High Cholesterol

November 01, 2004

High levels of bad cholesterol (non-HDL cholesterol) and high levels of inflammatory markers are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Putting test subjects on a diet high in Alpha-Linolenic Acid, an omega-3 fatty acid (17% of calories from these polyunsaturated fatty acids) decreased inflammation-causing substances in the body and also decreased total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. The inflammatory components lowered included the very dangerous C-reactive protein, plus vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, E-Selectin, and intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1, all chemicals native to our blood stream that can contribute to hardening of the arteries. The study is published in the November 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Dietary sources of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) include Flaxseed (the highest source), and also to a lesser extent soybeans and soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid precursor eventually being transformed into the EPA and DHA found in fish oil capsules (in most people).

High Dietary Potassium Aids Alkalinity, Healing, and Protects from Various Disease States

A transition toward modern Western diets has led to a substantial decrease in the consumption of potassium. A large segment of the population may now have suboptimal intake of potassium. High potassium intake is protective against major pathological states that affect the cardiovascular system, kidneys and bones. Additionally fruits and vegetables have potassium in the form of malates and citrates, forms that have an alkalinizing effect. Low-grade metabolic acidosis can worsen various catabolic processes especially in the elderly, such as the loss of calcium from bone (leading to bone thinning). The study appears in the November 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

When individuals tend to be more acidic (low-grade metabolic acidosis) they tend to be more inflamed, allergies, asthma, skin conditions, the break down of bone, arthritis and autoimmune diseases all tend to be worse. When a person has metabolic balance with short periods of acidity, and a tendency to be alkaline, it is a period of healing and rebuilding. The many servings of fruits and vegetables daily help to supply potassium and help improve metabolic balance. Low intake of potassium can lead to elevations of or even high blood pressure, blood vessel damage and this contributes to hardening of the arteries, kidney damage, and acidosis.

Fish Oil Capsules and Fish Help Control Inflammation

Fish oil capsules and fish supplying EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids have a variety of anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating (immune controlling) effects that may be relevant to hardening of the arteries and its risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. A variety of effects from these fatty acids have been demonstrated in human and animal studies. They help lower triglycerides, help improve cholesterol to HDL levels, help prevent improper blood clots, help protect the lining of blood vessels and improve blood flow, help lower elevated blood pressure, help prevent excitability of the heart, help decrease free radical damage, help normalize immune function, and help control inflammation. Epidemiological studies give evidence for reducing coronary artery disease and stroke, whereas randomized, controlled clinical trials support this and show protection from sudden heart related death due to cardiovascular disease. Trials demonstrate a clinically important anti-inflammatory effect in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel diseases. The review is published in the November 2004 issue of Current Atherosclerosis Reports.