Patients with metabolic syndrome, a condition partly characterized by high triacylglycerol (TAG) levels, experienced reductions in TAG levels of about 28 per cent, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition.
“We published a meta-analysis which found an effect on TAG. This has never been reported earlier, and since it was a meta-analysis we needed confirmation from a clinical trial,” study author Jogchum Plat from the Maastricht University’s Department of Human Biology told NutraIngredients.com.
“We have now demonstrated in people with metabolic syndrome a reduction in both LDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol,” he added.
The study expands our understanding of the role of stanols and sterols to improve cardiovascular health. High cholesterol levels, hypercholesterolaemia, have a long association with many diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD), the cause of almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
Numerous clinical trials carried out in controlled settings led researchers to report that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17 per cent, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The new study, supported by McNeil Ltd., UK, licensers of the Benecol stanol ingredient, also reported an additive effect for reducing TAG levels when the stanol yoghurt was used in combination with statins.
“Although we realize that the sample size of this study is relatively small and findings should be confirmed in larger studies, it seems fair to conclude that consumption of plant stanol esters alone or in addition to OTC statin intake has beneficial effects on improvement of the atherogenic lipoprotein profile in metabolic syndrome patients,” wrote the researchers.
Plat and his co-workers recruited 36 people with metabolic syndrome, an average age of 60 and an average BMI of 29.3 kg/m2. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
After a three-week period when all the participants consumed a placebo yoghurt and placebo capsules, they were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Group 1 received placebo, group 2 received simvastatin plus placebo drink, group 3 received the placebo capsule plus the stanol drink (2.0 grams per day of stanols), and group 4 received both simvastatin and the stanol drink.
After nine weeks of trial, the researchers found that non-HDL cholesterol levels had been reduced by 12.8, 30.7, and 35.4 per cent in groups 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Furthermore, reductions in TAG were 27.5, 21.7, and 32.7 per cent in these groups.
A reduction in the ratio of total:HDL cholesterol, reported to be the most specific lipid risk factor for CVD ratio, was also observed in all three intervention groups.
Plat and his co-workers considered the possible mechanisms that could explain the observations. The most likely may be a reduction in hepatic VLDL production. Plat said that the Maastricht-based team are currently attempting to elucidate the mechanism.
Source: Journal of NutritionJune 2009, Volume 139, Number 6, Pages 1143-1149, doi:10.3945/jn.108.103481“A Plant Stanol Yogurt Drink Alone or Combined with a Low-Dose Statin Lowers Serum Triacylglycerol and Non-HDL Cholesterol in Metabolic Syndrome Patients”Authors: J. Plat, G. Brufau, G.M. Dallinga-Thie, M. Dasselaar, R.P. Mensink