CHOLESTEROL WATCH

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The Incredible, Edible—and Healthy?—Egg

Once thought to be forbidden from the diet of those tryingto watch their cholesterol levels, eggs are making acomeback. Recent studies have shown that eating up toone egg a day did not raise cholesterol levels or increasethe risk of heart disease in healthy people. For thosealready battling high cholesterol levels, 3 to 4 eggs a weekis still acceptable.

Instead of being wary of too much cholesterol in foods,patients need to look out for saturated and trans fats tokeep their cholesterol levels low. Eggs may be high indietary cholesterol, but they are relatively low in saturatedfat. The same is true for shrimp and other shellfish—theyare high in cholesterol but low in fat, as long as they arenot fried or soaked in butter.

The results of a study published in the March 2006 issueof the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed thatadding a combination of heart-healthy foods to a patient'sdiet can bring cholesterol levels down as much as a first-generationstatin drug can. The study was the first toexamine the benefits of combining 4 types of foods withan FDA-authorized health claim related to heart disease.

Cholesterol, HBP, and Obesity Linked to Dementia

A study by the Aging Research Centerin Stockholm, Sweden, has demonstratedthat having high cholesterol levels, aswell as having high blood pressure (HBP)or being obese, increases a person'schance of developing dementia later inlife. Having just one trait doubles the risk;having all 3 increases the risk by 6 times.The results showed that, if people haveone or more of these traits at age 40, theyare more likely to develop dementia bythe time they reach age 60.

The study involved 1409 middle-agedpeople from Finland who were observedover a period of 20 years for signs ofdementia, including Alzheimer's diseaseand vascular dementia. The researchersused data from the Cardiovascular RiskFactors, Aging, and Dementia study.They found that, along with the knownrisk factors of age and a low level of education,HBP, high cholesterol, and obesityalso meant that people had a higherchance of suffering from dementia. Theresults were published in the August 3,2006, on-line edition of The LancetNeurology.

Cholesterol/HBP Combo Not Being Treated

A large number of adults with both high cholesterol and highblood pressure (HBP) are not being treated, according to the findingsof a recent study done by the Heart Disease PreventionProgram at the University of California, Irvine. By studying 2864adult men and women, the researchers found that ~18% of USadults have both high cholesterol and HBP. The figure rises to~50% in those aged 60 and older. Unfortunately, <29% of thosewith both conditions are being treated for both.

"We were surprised that, despite well-publicized guidelinesand treatments available for [both conditions], less than a thirdare being treated for [them], and only one tenth are controlledto recommended levels," said Nathan D.Wong, PhD, director ofthe program. "The?message is that many persons with hypertensionalso have hypercholesterolemia (and vice versa), andthat we have to do a better job at identifying when both ofthese are present and treating both of these conditions, astheir coexistence dramatically increases the risk of cardiovasculardisease."

The results of the study were published in the July 15, 2006,issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Low-Glycemic-Index Diet Reduces Fat and LDL

A study conducted in Australia found that a diet that scoreslow on the glycemic index (GI) can help overweight peoplelose body fat and reduce their levels of low-density lipoprotein(LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. In a study of 189 overweightand obese adults (aged 18 to 40 years), researchers saw thata diet high in either protein or carbohydrates, but with a lowGI score, resulted in the largest reduction in body fat.Surprisingly, the diets high in carbohydrates and with low GIscores showed the greatest decreases in weight.

The GI measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugarlevels. A food with a high GI score, such as a biscuit, causessharper peaks in sugar levels than a low-GI food, such as pasta.Earlier research has shown that low-GI foods make people feelfuller for longer and may promote the breakdown of fat. Thesefoods also tend to contain more soluble fiber, which reducestotal and LDL cholesterol levels.

The study results were published in the July 25, 2006, on-lineedition of NewScientist.com.