Millions of us have to watch our diet in order to keep our cholesterol levels down. High cholesterol can lead to hardened arteries and eventually, heart disease or stroke. Many people take statins to control it, but these drugs don't work on everyone and have side effects. So, what if you could take a simple sugar that can break down your cholesterol?
In fact, we already use it widely in foods and medicines. The chemical is a simple ring of sugar molecules called cyclodextrin. It is able to lower the amount of cholesterol crystals in the blood, which is a cause of atherosclerosis. This is when cholesterol builds up in the arteries, causing inflammation, and heart disease.
To see if cyclodextrin could prevent this damaging process, researchers fed two groups of mice a high cholesterol diet for eight weeks. But only one group was injected with the simple sugar and this group ended up with far less plaque in their arteries. Not only did cyclodextrin help rid the mice of the cholesterol, it was able to dampen the damaging inflammation.
Researchers also worked with samples of human blood vessels that had atherosclerosis. They found that the sugar was able to release cholesterol from the plaque so that the cholesterol oozed into the petri dish. And just as in mice, inflammation was reduced.
It would be incredible if this simple chemical turns out to be effective since it was always under our noses and could have a huge impact on heart disease.
For more information…
Cyclodextrin promotes atherosclerosis regression via macrophage reprogramming
Science Translational Medicine
06 Apr 2016: Vol. 8, Issue 333, pp. 333ra50
What Is Atherosclerosis?
Facts from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
What Is Coronary Heart Disease?
More good info from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)