The carotenoid beta-crypoxanthin may boost cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols when used in the same formulation, and also offer bone health benefits for post-menopausal women, says a new study from Spain.
A four week intervention using a combination of beta-crypoxanthin (0.75 milligrams per day) and phytosterols (1.5 grams per day) as a fruit drink was associated with significant changes in markers of cardiovascular and bone health, according to results published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases .
“Intake of the beverage containing beta-crypoxanthin and phytosterols reduced biomarkers of CVD risk and bone turnover in the target population (post-menopausal women),” wrote the researchers from the Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda in Madrid, the University of Valencia, and the Hero Group.
“Thus, assuming that the changes in serum levels of both beta-crypoxanthin and phytosterols (markers of exposure) reflect the composition of the beverage consumed, this effect was only achieved when both compounds were simultaneously supplied in the beverage, suggesting a synergistic effect.”
The study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, while the experimental beverages were provided by Hero Espana.
Heart and bone health
Phytosterols and stanols are the cholesterol-reduction market’s established leaders, with clinical data indicating that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols from foods can reduce total cholesterol levels by 8-17%, and post-menopausal women are reported to be at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
They are also at a higher risk of bone demineralization, and beta-crypoxanthin is reported to display a “unique anabolic effect on bone”, according to the Spanish researchers.
Beta-cryptoxanthin, found naturally in many citrus fruits, mangos and papaya, is a provitamin A carotenoid, meaning it is converted to vitamin A in the body. A growing number of studies have linked increased intake of the carotenoid to a lower risk of many diseases such as heart disease, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and arthritis.
In order to test the effects of a combination formulation of the carotenoid and phytosterols, the Spanish researchers recruited 38 postmenopausal women to participate in their randomized, double-blind, crossover study. The women were randomly assigned to receive juice drinks formulated with beta-crypoxanthin or phytosterols or both for four weeks. This was followed by a four week washout period before crossing over to the other intervention.
Results showed that beta-crypoxanthin appeared to enhance the cholesterol-lowering effect of phytosterols with a “moderate” decrease in levels of LDL and total cholesterol of about 6%.
In addition, the combination beverage had a greater impact on measures of bone health (osteocalcin levels) than the beta-cryptoxanthin beverage alone. However, these reduction, while statistically significant, fell within the variability levels reported for these biomarkers, said the researchers, which may be linked related to short study period.
“Thus, although the randomized crossover design of the study supports our observations and epidemiological, in vitro and in vivo evidence provides biological plausibility for the observed effects, the present results should be confirmed in larger, parallel, and longer intervention trials,” they wrote.
“It must be emphasized, however, that the changes observed are the result of a dietary intervention and therefore a drug-like effect (i.e. anabolic or anti-resorptive therapy) should not be expected.”
Source: Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.04.013
“Effect of beta-cryptoxanthin plus phytosterols on cardiovascular risk and bone turnover markers in post-menopausal women: A randomized crossover trial”
Authors: F. Granado-Lorencio, M.J. Lagarda, F.J. Garcia-Lopez, et al.