Sunday, 20 September 2009
BBRAeNEWS No.234 - A Doctor's Corner - Part 4
BBRA's A Doctor's Corner.
Heart Health Part 4 of 5.
Supplementing Your Heart Health: Omega-3, Plant Sterols, and More 4
If you have high cholesterol, or if you're at high risk for heart disease and heart attack, some supplements can help lower your cholesterol.
Green Tea Extract for Heart Health
Green tea extract is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, a perennial evergreen shrub. Green tea is a staple in Chinese traditional medicine.
This supplement is one of Guarneri's favorites and is shown to decrease LDL by 16%. She advises 375 milligrams of theaflavin-enriched green tea extract daily.
B Vitamins: B-6 (pyridoxine), B-12, and Folic Acid for Heart Health
B-complex vitamins help keep nerves and red blood cells healthy. They may also lower blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that’s possibly linked to heart disease, blood clots, heart attack, and strokes.
More studies are needed to fully understand the link between homocysteine and vitamin supplements, researchers say.
Coenzyme Q10 for Heart Health
Coenzyme Q10 is produced by the body and is necessary for basic cell functioning. Small studies have suggested that CoQ10 may reduce chest pain (angina). For people with clogged arteries, CoQ10 may make exercise easier.
Guarneri recommends CoQ10 supplements for patients taking statin drugs for high cholesterol. Some researchers believe that statins may block the natural formation of CoQ10 in muscle cells, which could contribute to heart muscle damage. The evidence, however, isn’t clear. A 2008 Canadian study showed that statins did not significantly reduce tissue concentrations of CoQ10.
Policosanol for Heart Health
Policosanol is a natural plant mixture used to lower cholesterol. Studies have shown policosanol helps reduce LDL cholesterol.
An analysis of 52 studies found that taking policosanol reduced LDL cholesterol by 24%; taking plant sterols reduced LDL by 10%. Policosanol also improved total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels more favorably than plant sterols.
Guarneri, however, is not a big fan of policosanol. No large studies of policosanol have been conducted in the United States.
A cautionary note: Don't take policosanol if you're taking blood thinners or drugs that lower cholesterol. Talk to your doctor first.
Soy for Heart Health
Soy has been shown to decrease total and LDL cholesterol, with smaller benefits to triglycerides. However, soy supplements have not been proven to reduce long-term risk of heart attack or stroke.
Two big cautions: Women with hormone-sensitive cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine cancer) or endometriosis may be advised not to take soy. People taking blood-thinning drugs should also talk to their doctors before taking soy.
Other Herbs, Spices, Extracts
Artichoke leaf extract, yarrow, and holy basil may help lower cholesterol, according to early studies. These and other commonly used herbs and spices -- like ginger, turmeric, and rosemary -- are being studied for their potential in preventing heart disease.
Globe artichoke leaf has become increasingly available in the United States. Preliminary studies suggest that these extracts may reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Multiple studies of garlic extract have reported small reductions in total and LDL cholesterol over short periods of time (4 to 12 weeks), but it's not clear whether this benefit is lasting or short-term. Also, effects on HDL are not clear.