Cholesterol Watch

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HDL May Not Be Good After All

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterolas "good" cholesterol is beingchallenged by researchers. University ofChicago researchers said that HDL hasvarying degrees of quality and that poorquality HDL is actually bad for individuals.

"For many years, HDL has been viewedas good cholesterol and has generated afalse perception that the more HDL inthe blood, the better," said lead authorAngelo Scanu, MD.

The researchers based their conclusionafter reviewing published researchon this subject. The findings showedthat the HDL from patients with chronicdiseases is different from the HDL inhealthy individuals, even when bloodlevels of HDL are comparable.

The researchers found that normal"good" HDL reduces inflammation,whereas the dysfunctional, "bad," HDLdoes not.

"This is yet one more line of researchthat explains why some people canhave perfect cholesterol levels, but stilldevelop cardiovascular disease," saidGerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chiefof The FASEB Journal, which publishedthe study in its December 2008 issue.

Soy Protein LowersCholesterol, Study Finds

A new meta-analysis confirms that eating soy protein can leadto a significant reduction in blood cholesterol levels, accordingto a study recently presented at the American Heart Association2008 Scientific Sessions.

The researchers found reductions in total cholesterol of 9.54mg/dL and reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterolof 7.12 mg/dL, which is about a 4% and 5% reduction,respectively. The study also examined the effect in patientswho had high versus normal cholesterol and found that thecholesterol-lowering effect of soy protein was considerable inboth groups.

"These findings build on the body of evidence that continuesto strongly justify maintaining the currently approved healthclaim for the role of soy protein in lowering heart disease risk,"said Priscilla Samuel, PhD, lead researcher of the study.

The study further demonstrates the heart health benefits ofsoy protein. Research continues to indicate that consuming 25g of soy protein daily results in reductions in total cholesteroland LDL cholesterol.

Go Green: Eat Pistachios

In the first study to investigate how pistachios lower cholesterol,researchers tested the effects of pistachios added toa heart healthy, moderate-fat diet on cardiovascular disease(CVD) risk factors.

For the study, the participants began with a typical diet of35% total fat and 11% saturated fat for 2 weeks. They thentested 3 diets for 4 weeks each. The diets included, as a control,a Step I Diet with no pistachios and about 25% total fatand 8% saturated fat. The pistachio-enhanced diets were StepI Diets with 10% and 20% of the energy supplied by pistachionuts, respectively. The 10% pistachio diet had 30% total fat and8% saturated fat, and the 20% pistachio diet had 34% total fatand 8% saturated fat.

The findings indicated that the 20% pistachio diet loweredlow-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol about 12% and the10% energy pistachio diet lowered LDL cholesterol by 9%. Therelationship of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL)cholesterol and LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol may bemarkers of CVD risk.

The findings were recently reported in the American Journalof Clinical Nutrition.

Triglyceride Levels Rising

Whereas levels of low-density lipoprotein(LDL) cholesterol among adults havefallen to some extent since 1980, harmfultriglyceride levels have almost quintupledover the same 28 years.

The findings are based on an analysisof data from the US National Health andNutrition Examination Survey II (NHANESII) conducted between 1976 and 1980,NHANES III from 1988 to 1994, andNHANES from 1999 to 2006. The datafrom NHANES II showed that in 1980,48% of adults had LDL cholesterol levelsabove optimal (100 mg/dL or greater)levels. By 2006, the frequency had fallento almost 41%.

Lead investigator Jerome D. Cohen,MD, cautioned that news is not allgood. "Triglyceride levels are about 5times higher than they were in thefirst NHANES." He said that about onethird of adults have elevated triglyceridelevels.

"To lower triglycerides, it is weightloss, weight loss, weight loss," Dr. Cohenemphasized. "We need to eat less, eatbetter, and exercise more."

F A S T F A C T: The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that healthy adults have theircholesterol levels checked once every 5 years.

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