Ingredient companies take joined-up approach to heart health

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Krill oil, Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Low-density lipoprotein

Ingredients companies are no longer presenting their products as a
singular approach to one aspect of cardiovascular health, but are
keeping in mind other bioactives that could add to the effect or
target another area of heart health in a synergistic way.

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term for the class of diseases involving the heart and/or blood vessels. Hypercholesterolemia is amongst the risk factors, along with blood pressure, diabetes, age and life-style factors. The ingredient combination approach is being favoured by Enzymotec for its plant-sterol-based CardiaBeat. The Israeli company has recently come an agreement with LifeGuard Health for the use of CardiaBeat in omega-3 based heart protection supplements. While plant sterols and stanols have been researched for their cholesterol-lowering ability, omega-3 has also been linked to expanding blood vessels to improve blood flow, reducing inflammation, and lowering blood triglyceride levels. "We believe that the US$1.2 bn cardiovascular disease market has reached the stage where greater and broader anti-CVD effect is required, without compromising on science of quality,"​ said Enzymotec CEO Ariel Katz. Enzymotec is also presently launching krill oil to the market. Derived from the planktonic family of crustaceans, it contains DHA and EPA, delivered to the body either as triglycerides or attached to phospholipids, and the antioxidant astaxanthin that is said to have an effect on various blood lipid markers. The krill oil market is dominated by Canada's Neptune Technologies and Bioressources. Its Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) has been used in most of the krill oil studies conducted to date, including a clinical trial that reported last year that a daily dose can lower bad cholesterol levels by 34 per cent and boost good cholesterol by 44 per cent. And when NKO was consumed in combination with low-dose statins, the effects were reported to be even more pronounced. The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Neptune is presently undertaking a population-based risk–benefit analysis for NKO and the management of dyslipidemia. Irish biotech Alltracel has developed a bioactive from cellulose fibre, which has yielded positive results for lowering LDL 'bad' cholesterol. Despite this, Alltracel is not regarding its ingredient in isolation, but rather has looked in how the effect could be increased when used in combination with omega-3, plant sterols, and statin drugs. To date, an increased effect has been reported with plant sterols and statins. When commercially available sterols were consumed in combination with the Alltracel bioactive, LDL 'bad' cholesterol was seen to decrease significantly more than when either one was taken alone – a reduction of 20.4 per cent, compared to 10.7 per cent for just sterols. "This represents an average efficacy increase of 91 per cent across the sterol based products,"​ said the company. The omega-3 results have not yet been released. Alltracel has also yet to unveil its commercialisation plan for its bioactive, but a spokesperson told last year that the company would consider teaming up with omega-3 and plant sterol suppliers. However not all the cholesterol-targeting ingredients show evidence of working quite so well together. A study from The Netherlands published in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutritionreported that a combination of​ plant stanol esters and beta-glucan reduced levels of LDL-cholesterol by almost ten per cent – but this was not as much as had been expected. Although both stanols and beta glucan have been research independently for their cholesterol-lowering ability, the researchers suggest that the water-soluble fibre reduces the efficacy of plant stanols.​ They speculated that the beta-glucan increased the viscosity of the muesli inside the intestine, which would have a knock-on effect by inhibiting stanol transport into the enterocytes (a type of cell lining the intestinal walls). Reference: March 2007, Volume 137, Pages 583-588 "Simultaneous Intake of Beta-Glucan and Plant Stanol Esters Affects Lipid Metabolism in Slightly Hypercholesterolemic Subjects"​Authors: E. Theuwissen and R.P. Mensink

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