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Preventing Cardiovascular Disease Naturally

November 2008

By Julius Goepp, MD

Maximizing the Benefits of HDL

Maximizing the Benefits of HDL

So let’s put this all together—for optimal cardiovascular health, we need to lower LDL and raise HDL levels, protect LDL from oxidation, raise activity of protective enzyme systems like PON1, and lower activity of risk-inducing systems such as CETP—not to mention reducing inflammatory stimuli and keeping endothelial cells’ health at a peak. That’s a tall order—but we can fill it readily by combining the strengths of supplements we already know about. Here’s how.

We’ve already seen that amla extracts, purified and processed to keep their vital polyphenol content intact, prevent oxidation, keep endothelial linings “slippery,” and optimize lipid profiles. By combining amla with extracts from a much less exotic plant family, we can further enhance antioxidant protection and add modulation of the powerful systems exemplified by PON1 and CETP. The so-called cruciferous vegetables (including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, kale, and others) have long been associated with improved health and reduced vulnerability to cancers and cardiovascular diseases.52,53 These vegetables, and especially their properly grown and harvested sprouts, are rich in a number of polyphenols and sulfur-containing compounds with powerful antioxidant capabilities.54-56 Specific cruciferous vegetable-derived phytochemicals also have the surprising ability to stimulate activity of many of the phase 2 detoxification enzymes.57 In the words of cell biologist and cardiovascular researcher Lingyun Wu of the University of Saskatchewan, “a diet containing phase 2 protein inducers [such as those derived from cruciferous sprouts] also reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular problems of hypertension and atherosclerosis.”58

FDA Warns of Consequences From Statin Combinations

The mainstays of standard drug-based approaches to cardiovascular health are the “statins” such as simvastatin, which block the enzymes used in manufacturing LDL in the liver,82 and the inhibitors of cholesterol absorption from the intestine, such as ezetimibe.83 Drug companies now market some of these drugs in combination, touting their ease of use and potential benefits over individual drug therapy. One such combination is Vytorin®, which contains both simvastatin and ezetimibe84— but these powerful drugs are beginning to show some unintended consequences.85 In a Safety Alert Bulletin issued on August 21, 2008, the FDA warned healthcare professionals about a possible association between the use of Vytorin® and a potentially increased incidence of cancer.86 Preliminary results from a trial of the drug in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events found that “a larger percentage of subjects treated with the drug were diagnosed with and died from all types of cancer combined when compared with placebo during the five-year study.”

This Safety Alert Bulletin is not the first involving a statin drug in combination. On August 8, 2008, the FDA warned of the risk of muscle injury called rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney failure or death, when simvastatin is used with amiodarone, a drug commonly used in managing heart rhythm disturbances.87 The risk of this condition is related directly to increasing doses of simvastatin (greater than 20 mg/day).

In both cases, FDA stopped well short of withdrawing these drugs from the market, instead simply warning healthcare professionals to be aware of the increased risks, and reminding them to monitor their patients closely. There’s no question that many pharmaceutical agents have a valid role in managing known cardiovascular disease and in preventing it—but responsible consumers will also do everything possible to remain educated about medication risks and side effects, and to minimize the need for such medications through careful attention to nutritional and lifestyle habits that promote cardiovascular health.

Nutritional scientists at FutureCeuticals in Illinois have recently issued a series of research reports in which they summarize their work with two proprietary sprout preparations known as “SproutGarden® 1” and “SproutGarden®-C.” Though these reports are preliminary and as yet unpublished, they are dramatic enough to merit inclusion in this discussion, and will certainly stimulate further large-scale research efforts. Here’s what they found:

Increased HDL Levels: SproutGarden® 1 (SPG1) was orally administered as a “shake” at 5 grams per dose twice daily to people with low HDL levels (below 40 mg/dL). Participants were advised to maintain typical diet, medicines, and habits during the study. HDL levels increased by an average of 29%, while other parameters such as LDL, fasting glucose, and liver function tests remained within normal ranges.59

Increased HDL Levels

Reduced LDL Oxidation: When SPG1 was added to serum from a young, healthy human, it reduced the chemically induced formation of oxidized LDL in the laboratory.60 When human subjects with elevated levels of oxidized LDL consumed SPG1 for three weeks, they experienced an average 69% decrease in levels of these dangerous complexes. Levels of other chemical markers of lipid oxidation associated with atherosclerosis also fell by 20-25%.61

Increased Protective PON1 Activity: When healthy, fasting human volunteers were tested before and after ingesting SPG1 as a single dose of 3 grams, activity of the cardioprotective enzyme PON1 in blood rose rapidly and dramatically (an average of 18% in the first 30 minutes).62

Reduction in Destructive CETP Activity: When SproutGarden®-C (SPG-C), a blend of sprouted seeds specifically selected for inhibition of LDL-enhancing CETP, was added in the laboratory to serum from healthy humans, a dramatic reduction in CETP activity of up to 50% was shown.63 A subsequent study in human volunteers showed that consumption of a single dose of 3 grams of SPG-C acutely inhibited activity of CETP in circulating blood.64 The researchers concluded that their results support the use of SPG-C as food material for modulating activity of CETP in humans, citing another recent study showing that even partial suppression of CETP activity positively affects the blood lipid profile.51


Maintaining a responsible diet and lifestyle are still the most effective means of optimizing cardiovascular health. Conventional medicine too often focuses on “after-the-fact” treatment interventions. Choosing an effective combination of nutritional supplements can be an important part of maintaining cardiovascular fitness through prevention. There is a solid scientific basis for including the combination of properly prepared amla extracts and carefully selected cruciferous sprout mixtures in an overall cardiovascular health regimen—their effects enhance and complement one another at the most fundamental molecular levels, and they boast a 3,000-year-long record of safe, effective, quality-of-life improvement.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-800-226-2370.

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