Thursday, August 17, 2006

Eat right for heart protection

We have always known that what we eat can affect our heart. We always think in terms of eating cholesterol rich food, increasing our bad cholesterol, and blocking our arteries. Well all this is not wrong, but should also begin to understand that what we eat, can also affect our good cholesterol and how wrong food can reduce our cardiac protection.

Dr S Nicholls and team, in the 15th August issue of JACC, reported a study in 14 patients given a diet high in saturated fats (PSFA) , followed by estimation of fats 6 hours later, as well as certain molecules known as molecules promoting inflammation (the I-CAM and V-CAM), and also measurement of blood flow patterns in the forearm.

1 month later, these 14 patients were given a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and 6 hours later, to have all the same measurements again. This was interesting. They found 1, that the PUFA diet, increase HDL, and the PSFA diet did not show the rise. 2. The lack of increase in HDL with PSFA diet, was accompanied by a concomitant rise in I-CAM and V-CAM molecules. 3. That the increase in HDL, with the PUFA diet was accompanied by a higher brachial artery flow rate.

What does all these mean. I learn from this that a short diet rich in PSFA or PUFA, brings about quick responses. These reactions occur within 6 hours, although artherosclerosis may take years. I learn that HDL levels does promote forearm blood flow, implying that it may also increase coronary blood flow. I also learn that HDL levels and molecules are in a dynamic flux, not a static number, measured once and good forevermore. In fact the whole molecular cascade is in a dynamic flux, and so persistent compliance with diet and exercise is necessary. It was very interesting to note that diet does affect the atherosclerosis cycle so quickly and definitely.

It is important to note, that the 14 subjects, do not have established CAD, they are healthy subjects, and so this is a study of HDL dynamics in the body. Also, we do not know if raising HDL with drugs will necessarily have the same good dynamic effect. All this is very interesting. Obviously, more work needs to be done. So watch this column, more to follow.

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