Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Phystosterols In Acai Found To Reduce Bad Cholesterol

You always hear the word cholesterol and associate it with bad health. You are told to avoid diet high in cholesterol if you want to live longer. Yet, you don’t have an inkling of what it really is and how it affects your body. If you want answers, read on to find out what is bad cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance produced in the liver. It is not totally bad as it sounds. It performs several functions in the body. Among these are being a structural component of the cell membrane and nerve fibers, are precursors of steroid hormones, vitamin D and bile acids, and break down carbohydrates and proteins.

Cholesterol is circulated in the blood by lipoproteins. There are 5 different kinds of lipoproteins, each with its own characteristics:

· High density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good cholesterol. They are made up of more proteins. They are stable and move the cholesterol from the arteries back to the liver for recycling and removal from the body.

· Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the bad cholesterol. They contain more fat than proteins. They are unstable and stick to the artery walls. They penetrate the linings of the vessel wall and contribute to heart diseases through atherosclerosis or plaque formation.

· Very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), like LDLs are bad stuffs but can more easily penetrate the artery wall. They have more fat content.

· Intermediate-density lipoproteins. They are formed from the degradation of VLDLs. These carry triglycerides and cholesterol.

· Chylomicrons are mostly composed of triglycerides, which is like a big ball of fat. They transport dietary fats from the intestines towards other parts of the body where the triglycerides are unloaded through the enzyme lipoprotein lipase.

Among the 5 classes, only the HDLs are considered beneficial to your health. The rest are risk factors for the development of heart diseases. Although the lower density lipoproteins such as the VLDL contain more fat, when they circulate in the blood, they are converted into LDL. This is why LDLs get the most flack for being the bad cholesterol.

High levels of bad cholesterol are an indicator for risk to developing cardiovascular diseases.

Why do I get the Bad Cholesterol?

Cholesterol comes from 2 sources: your body and from the food you eat. It is important that you watch your diet because your body already produces enough cholesterol to perform its normal functions. There are genetic conditions that make more than enough cholesterol needed by the body. You are likely to inherit this disorder when it runs in your family. When you load up on cholesterol-laden foods, the more you are putting your health at risk for heart diseases.

Phytosterols to the Rescue

The good news is, there are substances called phytosterols to help you fight bad cholesterol. Phytosterols are similar in molecular structure to cholesterols but the former are sterols found in plants while the latter are found in animals. Phytosterols are gaining popularity because of its role in reducing bad cholesterol.

Among the commonly occurring phytosterols are Campesterol, Delta-7-stigmasterol, Delta-7-avenasterol, Stigmasterol, Brassicasterol and Beta-sitosterol.

Phytosterols interfere with the absorption of cholesterol in intestines. They are found to reduce cholesterol in human subjects by 10 to 15%. They work by inhibiting the incorporation of cholesterol into transporters called micelles in the intestines. They compete for attachment to the micelles because of their similarity in structure to cholesterols. This reduces the overall cholesterol absorbed into the body. In turn, the total body cholesterol is decreased, while modifying the levels of good and bad cholesterol.

Phytosterols take time to be absorbed, hence it inhibits the absorption of cholesterol for a long time. It also prevents the re-absorption of cholesterol from bile acids.

Sources of Phytosterols

Rich sources of phytosterols are unhydrogenated vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and legumes. Acai berry is one important source of these healthy phytochemicals.

What is Acai Berry?

Acai berry is a round, blackish purple fruit that resembles grapes. It is considered as the world’s number one superfood because of its exceptional antioxidant properties and other health benefits. It is native to the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is the method to measure the antioxidant capacity of different foods. The ORAC score of acai is way above other fruits, which is why it earned to top spot among the superfoods.

It has various medicinal uses, and among these is its capacity to reduce bad cholesterol.

How Does Acai Berry Reduce Bad Cholesterol?

Acai berry is a rich source of unsaturated (healthy) fats, dietary fiber and phytosterols.

We have stressed the importance of phytosterols in reducing cholesterol by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Acai contains a high amount of beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol known to help control LDL.

In addition, the fruit contains essential fatty acids called linoleic acid and oleic acid, which are proven to lower the bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

The remarkable content of antioxidants in acai is due to its anthocyanins, which is a class of flavonoids. Acai is reported to have 10 to 30 times more anthocyanins than a glass of red wine. Antioxidants are important in fighting off free radicals. LDL is harmless unless it is oxidized. By preventing the oxidation of LDL, we are preventing the sequence of events associated in the formation of plaque in the arteries and the subsequent diseases that result from it.

The dietary fiber in acai is also significant in managing cholesterol levels. A high fiber diet promotes a healthy digestive system and helps lower the bad cholesterol.

Acai Berry Capsules

Acai supplements in capsule form are preferred over the juice form because of several reasons.

The acai juice is added with other fruit extracts and stabilizers, making the concentration of the main ingredient lesser. The amount of acai supplying the anthocyanins and other health properties are not enough to make a difference in your health. The capsule form utilizes on acai and does not need preservatives to improve its shelf life.

The pasteurization and reconstitution involved in processing the juice destroy the biologically active ingredients in acai. The health benefits you are paying for are lost.

Acai juice is rich in natural and man-made juice, which is bad for diabetics. Acai in freeze dried form was not found to have the same deleterious effects.

When choosing acai supplements, make sure that the manufacturer did not use pesticides in the acai berry tree. High standard of cleanliness must be observed in its processing to assure you that you are getting the best out of the fruit without the unecessary dangers that come with its manufacturing.


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