From Geriatric Pharmacy Intern Wendy Johnson, PharmD(c) University of Florida College of Pharmacy
Understanding your blood cholesterol and how it affects your health can reduce your risk for heart attack and/or stroke. LDL or low-density lipoprotein is commonly referred to as bad cholesterol because when too much of it circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Conversely, HDL or high-density lipoprotein is the good cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol from arteries and prevent blockage. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. Generally elevated triglycerides levels are associated with high LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Chinese scientists from Sun Yat-Sen University uncovered that dietary intake of the antioxidant anthocyanin can improve your cholesterol profile, i.e decrease LDL blood concentrations and increase LDL cholesterol concentrations. Anthocyanins are flavonoid pigments found in reddish purple fruits and vegetables, including purple cabbage, beets, cherries and purple grapes. In the research trial 120 participants were given either placebo or 160 mg anthocyanin twice daily for 12 weeks. In the anthocyanin group, HDL-cholesterol concentrations increased by 13.7% versus 2.8% in the placebo arm, while LDL-cholesterol concentration decreased by 13.6% in the anthocyanin group versus -0.6% in placebo. In addition, cholesterol efflux, or the removal of cholesterol from cells, increased by 20% in the anthocyanin group, compared to a 0.2 % in placebo. Scientists hypothesize anthocyanins work by reducing the activity of CETP. CETP, or cholesteryl ester transfer protein, collects triglycerides from LDL (bad cholesterol) and exchanges it for HDL (good cholesterol).