Spirulina lowers your cholesterol

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Cholesterol. We've all heard about it and it often has negative connotations. According to a 2018 studie more then 50% of the European population has an elevated cholesterol level ( total cholesterol >5.0 mmol/L) which leads to higher risks on cardiovascular diseases. But what is it exactly, where does the negative connotation come from and how can spirulina help?

What is cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential substance for our body. We need it as a building block for cell membranes, hormones, bile acids or vitamin D. Cholesterol is absorbed through the diet or produced by the body in the liver. Cholesterol is transported in the blood by means of lipoproteins: LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein). Your total cholesterol value is therefore the sum of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Both are strong indicators of possible cardiovascular disease.

HDL-cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is also known as “good cholesterol”. HDL transports cholesterol in the body to where it is needed. It also collects excess cholesterol and transports it to the liver, where it is either used or broken down again. HDL therefore prevents cholesterol from accumulating in the blood vessels and thus also protects them. There is a general consensus among doctors that high HDL-C levels are good for the body.

LDL-cholesterol

LDL also transports cholesterol in our body, but moves much slower through the bloodstream. After oxidation by free radicals (lipid peroxidation) they can form a deposit on our blood vessels walls. They form small deposits of fat, constrict the bloodstream and increase the chance of the veins clogging up. This is the bad cholesterol. Increased LDL-C levels in combination with high blood pressure are a time bomb for health. They greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A third of ischemic heart diseases are due to high LDL cholesterol levels (20).

 

Through a routine blood analysis you can easily have your cholesterol levels checked by your doctor.

Causes of bad cholesterol

The main causes of high LDL cholesterol levels are:

  • Food: a diet rich in saturated fats (meat, butter, milk, fast food, pastries, ...)
  • Overweight: Lots of belly fat would lead to an increase in LDL and a decrease in HDL cholesterol
  • Inadequate exercise: exercise increases your HDL-C and lowers your LDL-C
  • Alcohol: more than 2 glasses a day increases triglyceride levels in the blood which has an adverse effect on cholesterol metabolism
  • Smoking: damages the blood vessel wall and lowers HDL-C causing balance disruption
  • Genetic predisposition

Spirulina and cholesterol

Several studies  show that intake of spirulina succeeds in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally. The total amount of triglycerides in the blood also decreases. Due to the intake of spirulina, the bad LDL cholesterol levels go down and the good HDL cholesterol goes up.

One of the causes of heart disease is the oxidation of fats by free radicals. The numerous antioxidants in spirulina appear to be extremely suitable to counteract the oxidation of the lipoproteins, making them less likely to attach to the blood vessels. This was also demonstrated in various studies.

1. Torres-Duran, Patricia V et al. “Antihyperlipemic and antihypertensive effects of Spirulina maxima in an open sample of Mexican population: a preliminary report.” Lipids in health and disease vol. 6 33. 26 Nov. 2007, doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-33

2. Park HJ, Lee YJ, Ryu HK, Kim MH, Chung HW, Kim WY. A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study to establish the effects of spirulina in elderly Koreans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;52(4):322‐328. doi:10.1159/000151486

 3. Mazokopakis EE, Starakis IK, Papadomanolaki MG, Mavroeidi NG, Ganotakis ES. The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study. J Sci Food Agric. 2014;94(3):432‐437. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6261

4. Parikh P, Mani U, Iyer U. Role of Spirulina in the Control of Glycemia and Lipidemia in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. J Med Food. 2001;4(4):193‐199. doi:10.1089 /10966200152744463

5.  Ishigaki, Yasushi, Oka, Yoshitomo; Katagiri, Hideki, Circulating oxidized LDL: a biomarker and a pathogenic factor . Current Opinion in Lipidology: October 2009 - Volume 20 - Issue 5 - p 363-369 doi: 10.1097/MOL.0b013e32832fa58d

6. Ismail, Md et al. “Effect of spirulina intervention on oxidative stress, antioxidant status, and lipid profile in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients.” BioMed research international vol. 2015 (2015): 486120. doi:10.1155/2015/486120

7. Ku, Chai Siah et al. “Health benefits of blue-green algae: prevention of cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 16,2 (2013): 103-11. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.2468

8. Lee, Eun Hee et al. “A randomized study to establish the effects of spirulina in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.” Nutrition research and practice vol. 2,4 (2008): 295-300. doi:10.4162/nrp.2008.2.4.295

9. Li TT, Tong AJ, Liu YY, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids from microalgae Spirulina platensis modulates lipid metabolism disorders and gut microbiota in high-fat diet rats. Food Chem Toxicol. 2019;131:110558. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2019.06.005

10. Hernández-Lepe MA, Olivas-Aguirre FJ, Gómez-Miranda LM, Hernández-Torres RP,Manríquez-Torres JJ, Ramos-Jiménez A. Systematic Physical Exercise and Spirulina maxima Supplementation Improve Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, andBlood Lipid Profile: Correlations of a Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Oct 23;8(11). pii: E507. doi: 10.3390/antiox81105

11. WHO | Raised cholesterol [Internet]. [cited 2019 Oct 30]. Available from: https://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/cholesterol_text/en/ 

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