Antioxidants Studies

As everyone knows, eating and drinking are necessary for life. Less well known, however, is the fact that the body generates what are called free radicals in the process of turning food into energy. Free radicals are chemicals that are capable of damaging cells and genetic material. But eating is not the only way free radicals spring into being. The food we eat and the sunlight we feel also generate free radicals.

To be sure, free radicals come in many shapes, sizes, and chemical configurations. The characteristic feature of this chemical is that it soaks up electrons from bodily substances that yield them, which can leave the “loser’s” structure or function radically altered. Free radical damage can change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA; it can also make a circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL, sometimes called bad cholesterol) molecule more likely to get trapped in an artery wall. Free radicals also have the potential to alter a cell’s membrane, changing the flow of what enters the cell and what leaves it.

Fortunately, we aren’t defenseless against free radicals. The body puts up natural defenses against free radicals by making molecules that smothers the errant chemicals. We also extract free-radical fighters from food. Often called “antioxidants”, certain kinds of food give electrons to free-radicals without themselves turning into electron-scavenging substances. There are many different substances that can act as antioxidants. The most familiar ones are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other related carotenoids, along with the minerals selenium and manganese. They’re joined by glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and many more.

However, the term “antioxidant” can be misleading. These substances do not emit chemical properties that fight so much as they emit properties that facilitate. Indeed, some substances that act as antioxidants in one situation may be prooxidants—electron grabbers—in a different chemical milieu. Another big misconception is that antioxidants are interchangeable. This is not true. Each anti-oxidant has unique chemical behaviors and biological properties. It is believed, and has been strongly corroborated through scientific study, that anti-oxidants evolved as parts of elaborate networks, each substance having a different role to play. It follows that no single substance can fulfill the function of every other substance.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants: What’s the Buzz?

Antioxidants came to public attention in the 1990s. It was then that scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, and that the chemicals may contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. A number of studies stated that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing these chronic conditions than were people who ate sufficient amounts fruits and vegetables. Clinical trials tested the impact of single substances, especially beta-carotene and vitamin E, on cancer, heart disease, and similar maladies. But even before the results of these trials were in, the media, and the dietary supplement and food industries began promoting the benefits of “antioxidants.” Foods such as frozen berries and green tea were hyped as being rich in antioxidants. The consequences of this publicity were predictable: certain foods were labeled as rich in antioxidants and were marketed as such in stores; the makers of dietary supplements began touting the disease-fighting properties of all sorts of antioxidants.

In the meantime, the results of the actual trials were mixed. Most have not found the hoped-for benefits. And research teams reported that vitamin E and other antioxidant supplements didn’t protect against heart disease or cancer. One study even showed that taking beta-carotene may actually increase the chances of developing lung cancer in smokers. However, some of the trials reported benefits. One such study found that taking beta-carotene is associated with a modest reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.

The rather most, if not downright disappointing, results of the antioxidant trials have not stopped the commercial interests from misrepresenting the benefits of antioxidants in order to make money. Antioxidant supplements are a $500 million dollar industry that continues to grow. Antioxidants are still added to breakfast cereals, sports bars, energy drinks, and other processed foods, and they are promoted as additives that can prevent heart disease, cancer, cataracts, memory loss, and a host of other conditions. The claims made by the food and dietary supplement industries often distort the data. It is true that the package of antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and other substances found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help prevent a variety of chronic diseases; but there is no solid evidence that high doses of antioxidants can accomplish the same feat. The conclusion is clear: randomized, placebo-controlled trials—which, when performed well, provide the strongest evidence—offer little support that taking vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, or other single antioxidants provides substantial protection against heart disease, cancer, or other chronic conditions. The results of the largest such trials have been mostly negative.

Heart Disease and Antioxidants

Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other so-called antioxidants are not a panacea for heart disease and should not be promoted as such. In the Women’s Health Study, 39,876 initially healthy women took 600 IU of natural source vitamin E or a placebo every other day for 10 years. The results of the study showed that the rates of major cardiovascular events and cancer were no lower among those taking vitamin E than they were among those taking the placebo; however, a 24 percent reduction in total cardiovascular mortality was observed, which can be considered a quite significant result.

Earlier large vitamin E trials, conducted among individuals with previously diagnosed coronary disease or at high risk for it, generally showed no benefit. In the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) trial, the rates of major cardiovascular events were essentially the same in the vitamin E (21.5 percent) and placebo (20.6 percent) groups, although participants taking vitamin E had higher risks of heart failure and hospitalization for heart failure. (3) Another trial, the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GISSI), showed mixed results; there were no preventive effects after more than three years of treatment with vitamin E among 11,000 heart attack survivors. Nevertheless, some studies suggest potential benefits among certain subgroups. A recent trial of vitamin E in Israel, for example, showed a marked reduction in coronary heart disease among people with type 2 diabetes who have a common genetic predisposition for greater oxidative stress. In any case, Beta-carotene, as was shown in the Physicians’s Health Study, does not provide any protection against heart disease or stroke.

There have been combinations, but the findings are complicated and unclear. In the Supplementation en Vitamins et Mineraux Antioxydants (SU.VI.MAX) study, 13,017 French men and women took a single daily capsule that contained 120 milligrams of vitamin C, 30 milligrams of vitamin E, 6 milligrams of beta-carotene, 100 micrograms of selenium, and 20 milligrams of zinc, or a placebo, for seven and a half years. The vitamins had no effect on overall rates of cardiovascular disease. In the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, vitamin E, vitamin C, and/or beta-carotene had much the same effect as a placebo on myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary revascularization, or cardiovascular death, although there was a modest and significant benefit for vitamin E among women with existing cardiovascular disease.

Cancer and Antioxidants

There is also no conclusive proof that antioxidants help prevent cancer. Scientists need more time to determine the impact of antioxidants on the risk of getting cancer. In the long-term Physicians’ Health Study, cancer rates were similar among men taking beta-carotene and among those taking a placebo. Other trials have also largely showed no effect, including HOPE. The SU.VI.MAX trial showed a reduction in cancer risk and all-cause mortality among men taking an antioxidant cocktail but no apparent effect in women; it is possible that this is a result of the men in the study having low blood levels of beta-carotene at its beginning. A randomized trial of selenium in people with skin cancer demonstrated significant reductions in cancer and cancer mortality at various sites, including colon, lung, and prostate. The effects were strongest among those with low selenium levels at baseline.

Age-Related Eye Disease and Antioxidants

The effects of antioxidants on age-related eye disease may be one of the most hopeful leads scientists have. A six-year trial, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), found that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc provided some protection against the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration in people who were at high risk of the disease. Lutein, a naturally occurring carotenoid found in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, may also protect vision. It is too early to tell what the impact of lutein supplements may be. The trials of such substances have been relatively short, and their ability to slow or prevent age-related macular degeneration has not been ascertained. A new trial of the AREDS supplement regimen plus lutein, zeaxanthin, and fish oil is underway, and it could yield better information.

Potential Hazards of Antioxidants

There have been a few studies which showed that the consumption of antioxidants, as opposed to being beneficial in all instances or at least harmless in fact can interfere with the health of the consumer. The first trial which showed this possible negative effect was undertaken in Finland where heavy smokers were fed beta-carotene. Because of their smoking habits there was a already a lung cancer risk but it was noticed that a significant increase in the incidence of lung cancer amongst the trial group as opposed to the placebo. The trial was stopped so conclusive results are hard to deduce.

A different test which was conducted with heavy smokers exposed to asbestos being fed beta-carotene and vitamin A. This too shows an increase in the incidence of Lung cancer. It must be emphasized that not all trials of Beta-carotene have been negative. A physicians health study which only had a few smokers did not show any significant differences even when followed up after 18 years.

In a separate study showing possible negative effects of a variety of health supplements showed a higher incidence of skin cancer in women being fed supplements of Vitamins C & E, Beta-carotene, selenium and zinc.

Conclusions to be drawn from the above studies, amongst others, is that it is known that although free radicals have been shown to contribute to the incidence of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and even vision loss, there is no automatic conclusion that can be drawn that antioxidants will fix the problem. And certainly not when consumed away from their normal context.

Studies to date do not show conclusive evidence one way or another but there is certainly no strong evidence to suggest that antioxidants are effective against disease. A rider must be mentioned and that is that the trials conducted till now have been short in duration, conducted with people some of whom had an existing disease.

There has been a noticeable benefit to the consumption of beta-carotene on cognitive ability after 18 years. This is exceptional as it is the only study to have continued so long. (Physicians health follow up study) Nevertheless there is abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

Clarification with regard to supplemental studies

There are any number of studies conducted on any number of vitamins and other dietary supplements that are often contradictory. The picture presented to the consumer is confusing and will often seem frustrating in that instead of clarifying things these studies muddy the waters.

Examining exactly what the vitamins trial study did will often go some way to explaining the varying results. Here are a few items to check when looking at apparently conflicting vitamins studies.

  • What was the precise dosage taken by the participants and how long was the study’s duration. This is significant as few studies will have identical dosages and identical time spans. A study in Vitamin D showed that a dosage of 700 plus IU per day had a significant protection against fractures whereas a study of people taking only 400 IU per day showed no such effect. The same applies to the duration as the build up of the protective mechanisms is not a short process.
  • The age, health and life styles of the participants. Studies drawn from young, active gym going participants is likely to differ significantly from heavy drink and smoking office workers. Exercise and other lifestyle choices such as diet affect out health and how the body responds to vitamins.
  • At what stage is was the supplement fed to a study participant. If studying the effect of a supplement on someone already suffering from a disease it may be found that something taken at the onset has a differing effect from something taken when a disease is far advanced. An example being that Folate supplements are only effective against neural tube defects in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • How were the results tabulated and calculated. This is a significant problem as measurement as to benefit may and probably will vary widely. Heart disease is a wide subject and a measurement of coronary thrombosis may miss out on the incidence of strokes.

Belly Be Gone

New research has discovered that ab flab is unlike the fat in other parts of our bodies. Here’s how to lose it, for good. Don’t avoid avocados because they’re high in fat. They have monosaturated fats, which are the healthy kind.

As much as we wish it were possible to magically melt inches from our stomach, as much infomercials insist their products can whittle our waists, as much as we don’t’ want to hear the truth, here it is: You can crunch until the cows come home, but unless you’re taking in fewer calories than you’re expending, the most hard-won six-pack will be hidden under fat.

The key to blasting away that belly fat has always been, and still is, exercise combined with the right diet. But new research is showing that abdominal fat is different from the other fat in our body, and that reducing it is as important for your health as it is for aesthetics. Fortunately, the latest findings also shows that adding specific habits to a smart eating plan can increase the percentage of belly fat we lose as we slim down.

Abdominal fat mainly consists of visceral fat, fat around the organs, and to a lesser amount subcutaneous fat – fat right beneath the skin. The first type of fat is the dangerous one because it’s biologically active tissue that secrets hormones and chemicals that interfere with our sensation of fullness and appetite. This causes an imbalance in normal hormones such as insulin, and it promotes inflammation. Plus, visceral fat near the liver stimulates the production of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides and lowers good cholesterol (HDL).

As a result, experts say, abdominal fat leads to higher risks for heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancers.

Eat more healthful fats and grains

Adding omega-3 fatty acids to each meal has also been shown to reduce output of stress hormones. Hard-working omega-3s abound in avocados, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats.

A diet high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, can help you lose more belly fat even without reducing calories or doing additional exercise. Almonds, avocados, flaxseed oil, macadamia nut, natural peanut butter, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pistachios are also excellent sources of monounsaturated fats.

Expert also advises eating more whole grains, such as 100 percent whole-wheat bread, lentils, and brown rice. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a calorie-controlled diet rich in whole grains trimmed extra fat from the waistline. The study compared the weight loss of two groups. Both are 5 servings of low-fat dairy and 2 servings of lean protein. The only difference between the two was the one ate all whole grains and the other ate all refined grains. The whole-grain group lost the most belly fat. This may be due to the decreased insulin response to whole grains versus refined carbohydrates, making it easier to mobilize fat storage.

The good news about abdominal fat – and yes, there is such a thing – is that it’s usually the first to come off when you start shedding pounds. Most people will lose weight from the abdominal area before any other area of the body. That’s because visceral fat is more metabolically active and easier to lose than subcutaneous fat under the skin. People who are significantly overweight may see quicker results in their ab flab than someone who has less to lose in that area.

Dairy is good – Don’t avoid yogurt, skim milk, and low-fat cheese. A diet high in calcium has been associated with weight loss. Plus, you need it for your bones and teeth.

The right fat – A diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, can help you lose more belly fat without reducing calorie intake or adding more exercise.

Produce power – Eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies is crucial to any weight loss effort, as it is to good health in general. So fill up on the good stuff!

The perfect nut – Almonds are high in protein, vitamin E, fiber, and healthy fat. Plus they have a satisfying crunch. One study found that they may even promote weight loss.

Oxidized LDL

The prime focus of most drug research concerning cardiovascular disease has been about lowering cholesterol levels, and that is about all you will hear in their ads on television. However, thousands of studies are now showing how oxidized LDL is much more dangerous and promotes virtually every stage of atherosclerosis; therefore, in addition to lowering its level, it is just as important to keep your LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized. LDL cholesterol can become oxidized by free radicals. Oxidized cholesterol is more prone to stick to arterial walls and form foam cells that eventually form plaque. Commercial tests are not yet available to measure oxidized cholesterol at affordable prices. Since there is no economical test to determine the degree to which LDL cholesterol is oxidizing in your body, it is bet to quench inflammation, take antioxidants, lower Apo B (apolipoprotein B) levels, and take supplements to reduce small LDL particles.

For example, the higher the calorie, sugar, and fat content of each of your meals, the greater you will experience what doctors call postprandial oxidative stress after you have finished eating. It is an oxidation process. So eating a Mediterranean diet wins again. You can also drink water with lemon or lime, green or black tea, or 2 ounces pomegranate juice with your meals to reduce this oxidation process.

It is also recommended that you take the following in supplement form if you are not getting these nutrients to lower oxidized cholesterol:

• Gamma tocopherol
• Pomegranate juice
• Ubiquinol (CoQ10)
• Grape seed and/or pine bark extracts
• Theaflavin

Apolipoprotein B

Apo B is a measurement of the number of LDL (bad cholesterol) particles in the blood. It is the protein portion of the low-density lipoprotein and transfers cholesterol from the lipoprotein either to the cells to be used or to the liver to be excreted. If the amount of Apo B present is in proportion to the amount needed by the cells, then no problem occurs. However, if you have an excess of Apo B, the excess Apo B will usually deposit cholesterol in arterial walls. Apo B determines whether the cholesterol is used correctly, it determines if cholesterol ends up as plaque. It is believed that LDL particle numbers may predict coronary artery disease risk better than LDL levels. Apo B is mainly genetically determined. Having a large number of LDL particles has been shown to increase heart attack risk even when the total LDL is normal or low and that this measurement is among the most powerful tools for predicting an ischemic event.

To determine the number of LDL particles, it is possible to count apolipoprotein B (Apo B) particles, because Apo B is the major protein particle of an LDL cluster, and each LDL cluster will have only one. It is possible to have an LDL number of 80 (normal), for instance, but an Apo B count of either 50 (normal) or 130 (elevated). (Note that a normal Apo B level would be anything below 60). Unfortunately, a low LDL amount but a high Apo B count is fairly common and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Proper diet, regular exercise, and supplementation are effective in reducing your Apo B level. Avoiding trans fats and reducing saturated fats in your diet are also extremely important in lowering Apo B. below are supplements to lower Apo B:

• Niacin
• Red yeast rice
• Sytrinol
• Pantethine

LDL particle size:

Small LDL particles are far more atherogenic (plaque forming) because they are 40 percent more likely to get stuck in artery walls and form plaque. Studies have shown small LDL triples the likelihood of developing coronary plaque. Small LDL also shows a tendency toward insulin resistance and thus an increased risk of diabetes, especially if you are overweight or obese. Other research has shown that if you have small LDL particles and high C – reactive protein (CRP) levels, your chances of a heart attack are six times higher than normal.

The best way to keep LDL particle size larger and safer is by maintaining a healthy weight. Taking 1,500-3,000 mg of niacin a day (or as directed by your doctor) can also help control LDL size. Research is showing niacin may be the most effective nutrient to take to help eliminate small LDL. It is also best to eat foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) number and thus release sugars more slowly after eating. Note that stain drugs have only a minimal to no effect on LDL particle size. Taking soluble fiber supplements with your other foods can also help in promoting larger LDL particles, as can making sure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids and getting regular exercise.

Ascorbate (vitamin C) is a highly potent aqueous-phase antioxidant in plasma, which has been shown in vitro to retard LDL oxidation. USANA Vitamins Supplements Booster C 600™ has a special blend of immunity-supporting ingredients. It contains zinc, echinacea, and elderberry and includes USANA’s own proprietary vitamin C supplement Poly C as well. Booster C 600 is also the perfect seasonal companion to USANA’s other supplements that support immunity health: USANA Proflavanol® C100, USANA® Probiotic, Pure Rest™, and USANA’s Vitamin D supplement.

High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a wax-like fatty substance (lipid) found in the cell membranes of all body tissues. About 75 percent of it is synthesized by the body, with the rest being of dietary origin. Despite cholesterol’s bad reputation, it is actually necessary for proper body function, and plays a central role in many biochemical processes including production of sex hormones. But at the same time, excessively high levels of cholesterol – referred to as hypercholesterolemia – pose a threat to good health.

There are two major forms of cholesterol high-density Lipoproteins (HDLs), which are often referred to as “good cholesterol”, carry cholesterol from the blood to the liver for elimination from the body. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), or “bad cholesterol”, carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. You total cholesterol considers both LDL and HDL levels, because they are both important for good health. When there are high levels of LDLs in the blood- and especially when this is accompanied by low levels of HDLs – cholesterol can be deposited on the walls of the arteries, causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). This condition, in turn, is the underlying cause of strokes, heart attacks, and most cardiovascular disease in general.

These disorders are also linked to high triglyceride levels. This refers to the form that fat takes when it is being stored for energy in your body. Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are vital for human life but unhealthy if at too high a level. Your doctor will be able to test your HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels by taking a simple blood test. (You may need to fast the day of the test. Your doctor will provide you with details).

Dietary changes are key to lowering both cholesterol and triglycerides. Red meat and other foods high in saturated fats should eaten sparingly (or, preferably, eliminated), while heart-healthy fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts should be included in greater amounts. Exercise is also very important for achieving and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Additionally, certain nutrients can help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, and restore heart health.

Causes of High Cholesterol

• Alcoholism
• Amino acid deficiency
• Biotin deficiency
• Carnitine deficiency
• Deficiency of hormones such as DHEA, estrogen, or testosterone
• Deficiency of natural antioxidants such as beta-carotene or selenium
• Essential fatty acid deficiency
• Excess dietary starch
• Excess dietary sugar
• Fiber deficiency
• Food allergies
• Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or processed fats (lard, margarine, palm oil, shortening)
• Increased tissue damage due to infection, radiation, or oxidative activity (free radical production)
• Liver dysfunction
• Vitamin C deficiency

Causes of Low Cholesterol

• Adrenal stress
• Cancer
• Cholesterol-lowering drugs
• Chronic hepatitis
• Essential fatty acid deficiency
• Excessive exercise
• Immune decline
• Low-fat diets
• Manganese deficiency
• Psychological stress
• Recreational drugs such as marijuana or cocaine

Supplements that decrease cholesterol levels

• Carnitine – L-carnitine is most effective.
• Chromium – Decreases total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
• Coenzyme Q10 – Increases HDL (good) cholesterol and decreases platelet stickiness. May reduce the effects of blood thinners.
• Fiber, soluble – Decreases total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Choose a fiber supplement with no added sugar. Supplement with several glasses of water.
• Garlic (supplements or cloves) – Decreases triglycerides and decreases total cholesterol.
• Gugulipid – Decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreases platelet stickiness.
• Magnesium – Decreases total cholesterol, decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, decreases triglycerides, and decreases platelet stickiness. Do not take if you have problems with your kidneys. Discontinue use if you experience diarrhea or abdominal pain.
• Niacin, non-extended release – Decreases total cholesterol, decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreases triglycerides. Do not drink alcohol or hot drinks within one hour of taking niacin.
• Pantethine – decreases total cholesterol, decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, decreases triglycerides.
• Policosanol – Increases HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, and decreases platelet stickiness. Discuss use with doctor if taking an anticoagulant.
• Red yeast rice – Take 200 mg of Coenzyme Q10 with red yeast rice, which lowers total cholesterol. Use with caution if you have liver disease because it may elevate liver enzymes.
• Soy – Decreases total cholesterol, decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol, and decreases triglycerides. Consuming too much soy may be unhealthy, so eating soy foods is healthier than taking soy supplements.
• Tocotrienols – Modifies HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that can decrease the rate at which your body makes cholesterol; decreases plaque formation in arteries, and reduces lipoprotein plasma levels. Consult healthcare provider first if you are taking a blood thinner.

Causes of High Triglyceride Levels

Triglycerides are fat cells that are stored in your body and later transferred into energy. Yet high levels of triglycerides have been strongly linked to coronary heart disease. The list below describes factors and foods that can cause your triglyceride levels to rise.

Alcohol, Birth control pills or any other progestin-containing drug, Caffeine, Cakes, cookies, and candies, Diuretics, Fruit juice, Genetics, High fat diet, Lack of physical activity, Nicotine, Skipping an early meal and compensating in the evening, Soft drinks, Stress, Too many carbohydrates, Too much fruit, White bread, White flour and White sugar.

Fatty Acids

Many people regard fat as an adversary to their good health. It is true that excessive intake of certain fats can result in serious medical problems. However, not all fats are the same. In fact, your body requires certain fatty acids – a major component of fats – to maintain health and prevent disease. Fats are also an important source of energy and help your body perform a variety of functions. Recognizing the difference between “good” and “bad” fats is crucial as you strive to achieve optimal health.

There are several different types of fats. Saturated fats are “bad” fats because they can raise cholesterol levels and cause unhealthy weight gain. They are primarily found in foods that come from animals, including fatty meats (such as beef and pork) and dairy products (such as whole milk and butter), and are usually solids at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats primarily come from vegetable foods and tend to be liquids at room temperature. They consist of polyunsaturated fats and monounsatured fats, both of which are “good” fats. Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, can positively affect your body by lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol. However, they can also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, lower LDL cholesterol but do not affect HDL cholesterol. Yet, the impact made on LDL cholesterol is usually minor. Monousaturated fats are found in olive oil and canola oil.

Production of most fatty acids occurs within your body from the breakdown of fat molecules, but there are two important polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 that cannot be manufactured in your body and must be provided through diet or taken as supplements. Therefore, although certain low-fat diets can be healthier than diet high in fat, a major shift in food consumption to a low-fat diet may deprive your body of these essential nutrients. These two “good” fats are termed essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Trans fatty acids are another type of unsaturated fat. In nature, they occur only in small dosages that don’t have negative effects on your body. However, the food industry has started producing this type of fatty to help food stay fresh longer. Manufactured trans fatty acids are very unhealthy “bad” fats. There are even mandates against their use in Europe – but in the United States, they can be found in baked goods, breads, candies, chocolate, frozen dinners, and processed meats.

It is also important to continue your intake of the vitamins and minerals. Your body requires vitamin A, the B vitamins, vitamin C, biotin, magnesium, niacin, zinc, and other nutrients to convert fatty acids into usable hormones. Protein is necessary as well. Proper intake of these nutrients as well as good fats will contribute to your good health.

However, alcohol, stress, and certain medications can cause your body to use these fatty acids incorrectly. At the same time, intake of fatty acids may change the amount of medication you need. For example, increased fatty acid intake may result in your needing less Prozac or insulin. Your healthcare provider can provide you with the knowledge you need to make this decision. Similarly, consult your doctor about your fatty acid consumption if you are taking a blood thinner. Some fatty acids have major effects on your blood’s ability to clot.

Instead of the complete elimination of fat from your diet, you need to eat less “bad” fats while adding more “good” fats to your eating and nutrient supplementation programs.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that is found in your bloodstream and carried through your body in lipoprotein particles. It is both made by your body and consumed in animal foods. Although needed by your body, the intake of too much cholesterol can clog your arteries, resulting in your heart receiving less blood and oxygen. This can cause serious cardiovascular problems.

There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is known as the “bad” (or “lousy”) cholesterol because it can form as plaque along your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. HDL, on the other hand, is the “good” (or “happy”) cholesterol. Its main job is to collect, breakdown, and excrete the LDL that is already in your body.

Therefore, your goal for optimal health should include a low LDL count and a high HDL count. Your doctor will be able to test your cholesterol levels from a blood sample. Ideally, your total cholesterol (LDL plus HDL) should be under 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and your HDL should be over 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If it is not, your doctor may need to run further tests.

If your cholesterol is high or has a sudden increase, you may wish to change your dietary habits. Although a portion of your cholesterol levels is due to heredity, limiting your intake of “bad” cholesterol while increasing exercise to elevate “good” cholesterol are important steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease. There are suggestions of vitamins and other nutrients that can help improve your cholesterol levels from health professionals.

Soy protein, with intact genistein and daidzein, significantly decreased LDL cholesterol 30% to 40% and significantly increased HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol ratios by 15%.