Flame to a Fuse
Don’t let anyone ever tell you cholesterol is bad. If they do, here’s your comeback: LDL cholesterol (right – the “bad” cholesterol) moves fats away from the liver. Your liver (and you!) wouldn’t last very long without LDL.
Here’s where potential danger looms: LDL oxidation. This is a primary factor in the development of atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries from plaque formation).
But when oxidation is inhibited, the concept of driving down your LDL numbers to absurdly low levels is not nearly as important as drug companies would have you believe.
To investigate the prevention of LDL oxidation, researchers at Italy’s Free Radical Research Group recruited 14 healthy subjects between the ages of 35 and 40. Blood samples were taken from each subject before and after a high-fat meal. Over the ten days following the meal, each subject took 110 micrograms of selenium daily. At the end of the 10-day intervention, blood samples were taken from each subject before and after the same high-fat meal.
Results “Selenium supplementation fully prevented the meal- induced increase in…LDL susceptibility to oxidation.”
Of course, this isn’t all you’ll get in return for your selenium intake. This important mineral plays key roles in immune system enhancement, cancer defense, insulin efficiency, and prevention of cognitive decline.
But don’t stop there…
Development of atherosclerosis is a complicated process that involves more than just LDL oxidation.
In “Take it to Heart” (2/24/04), I told you about a UCLA study in which researchers examined the effect that diet plays on atherosclerosis in subjects who are genetically inclined to develop the condition.
Results showed that an intake of omega-6 fatty acids significantly enhanced the formation of arterial plaque while higher omega-3 intake impeded formation. The ideal diet supplies a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, but very few of us actually achieve that ratio because processed foods, loaded with simple carbohydrates, deliver omega-6 in abundance.
Other research has shown that magnesium, vitamin C, and regular exercise all combine to help reduce inflammation that contributes to plaque formation on artery walls.
You should always talk to your doctor before adding new supplements to your daily regimen, but it’s especially important with selenium since it does have an upper safety limit.
To Your Good Health,
“Selenium Supplementation Prevents the Increase in Atherogenic Electronegative LDL (LDL Minus) in the Postprandial Phase” Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, Published online ahead of print, September 2007, elsevier.com