New way to treat cholesterol may be on the horizon

A breakthrough discovery by scientists at Houston Methodist could change the way we treat cholesterol. Researchers found new evidence that challenges a 40-year notion of how fast we eliminate it from our bodies.

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This accidental discovery, made by medical biochemist Henry Pownall, Ph.D., and his team at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, reveals a new pathway in the cholesterol-elimination chain that will be key to developing new drugs to lower cholesterol. Their findings are described in an article titled “ABCA1-Derived Nascent High-Density Lipoprotein-Apo AI, and Lipids Metabolically Segregate,” appearing online Oct. 26 and in print Nov. 21 in the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology journal. Pownall, who is the corresponding author, said the initial purpose of their study was to prove the current model of cholesterol transport through the body was correct. It turns out, however, that the model was not quite right.

“The model people have been using for 40 years presumed that cholesterol was transported from the arteries with other lipids and proteins and entered a particle that stayed in the blood for several days before being cleared by the liver for disposal,” Pownall said. “What we discovered in the process was something different. We discovered the cholesterol skips all these steps and goes directly from this first particle to the liver in two minutes. This is a thousand times faster than what was formerly suspected.” Related image

While most studies look at HDL cholesterol in its mature form found in blood, Pownall and his colleagues studied cholesterol in nascent HDL, an early kind of HDL produced by cells. Cholesterol in the nascent HDL goes directly to the liver, mainly skipping conversion to the mature form of HDL. Pownall stresses that it’s not that current practices of treating “bad” LDL cholesterol are incorrect, but instead that physicians and researchers need to better understand how the “good” HDL cholesterol contributes to cardiovascular disease and how to raise it in a way that protects the heart, because some patients with very high HDL numbers, which were always thought to be beneficial, are actually at risk. “LDL cholesterol, the so-called ‘bad cholesterol’ is well controlled with the current statin therapies. The track record for these cholesterol-lowering drugs is indisputable, and they will continue to work,” Pownall said. “HDL, or the ‘good cholesterol,’ however, is a much trickier system. Not everything that raises it protects the heart and not everything that lowers it is terrible for you. We will need to redesign new drugs to lower plasma cholesterol in a way that takes into account this new mechanism. We will look for interventions, maybe dietary (why of course!), perhaps pharmacological, that raise HDL cholesterol in a way that helps protect the arteries and prevent cardiovascular disease.”

Adapted from: Bingqing Xu, Baiba K. Gillard, Antonio M. Gotto, Corina Rosales, Henry J. Pownall. ABCA1-Derived Nascent High-Density Lipoprotein–Apolipoprotein AI and Lipids Metabolically SegregateArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2017; ATVBAHA.117.310290 DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.117.310290

Nutritional Nugget

Move to low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt! Smoothies are a great way to enjoy dairy during the early morning rush. For a quick breakfast, blend yogurt with banana, peanut butter & ice.

WODal Nugget 

Timeous: In good time; sufficiently early

Inspirational Nugget

 

“There are three categories of suffering or pain to include: All-pervading pain, the pain of alternation and the pain of pain. All-pervading pain is the general pain of dissatisfaction, separation and loneliness. The sense of alternation between pain and its absence, again and again, is itself painful. And then there is the pain of pain. Resisting pain only increases its intensity.”

~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 

 

 

Too much sugar? Even ‘healthy people’ are at risk of developing heart disease

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Healthy people who consume high levels of sugar are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A ground-breaking study from the University of Surrey found that a subject group of otherwise healthy men had increased levels of fat in their blood and fat stored in their livers after they had consumed a high sugar diet. The study, which has been published in Clinical Science, looked at two groups of men with either high or low levels of liver fat, and fed them a high or low sugar diet to find out if the amount of liver fat influences the impact of sugar on their cardiovascular health. The low sugar diet contained no more than 140 calories a day worth of sugar, an amount close to the recommended intake, while the high sugar diet contained 650 calories worth.

After 12 weeks on the high sugar diet, the men with a high level of liver fat, a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), showed changes in their fat metabolism that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. Fat metabolism is the biochemical process by which fats are transported and broken down in the blood, and used by the cells of the body. The results also revealed that when the group of healthy men with a low level of liver fat consumed a high amount of sugar, their liver fat increased and their fat metabolism became similar to that of the men with NAFLD.

Professor of Nutritional Metabolism, Bruce Griffin, said: “Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. “While most adults don’t consume the high levels of sugar we used in this study, some children and teenagers may reach these levels of sugar intake by over-consuming fizzy drinks and sweets. This raises concern for the future health of the younger population, especially in view of the alarmingly high prevalence of NAFLD in children and teenagers, and exponential rise of fatal liver disease in adults.”

Adapted from: A. Margot Umpleby, Fariba Shojaee-Moradie, Barbara Fielding, Xuefei Li, Andrea Marino, Najlaa Alsini, Cheryl Isherwood, Nicola Jackson, Aryati Ahmad, Michael Stolinski, Julie Anne Lovegrove, Sigurd Johnsen, Jeewaka Mendis, John Wright, Malgorzata E Wilinska, Roman Hovorka, Jimmy Bell, Louise E Thomas, Gary Frost, Bruce Arthur Griffin. Impact of liver fat on the differential partitioning of hepatic triacylglycerol into VLDL subclasses on high and low sugar diets. Clinical Science, 2017; CS20171208 DOI: 10.1042/CS20171208

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Use fresh or dried herbs and spices or a salt-free seasoning blend in place of salt when cooking. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to add flavor to cooked foods.

Daily Inspiration 

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