Garlic and cholesterol--Does everyone now need Lipitor?

Garlic May Not Lower Cholesterol
Study Shows No Improvement in Cholesterol Levels From Raw Garlic or Garlic Supplements

Lots of reports continue to hit the press about a small study that hoped to determine whether garlic as whole cloves (4 to 6), an aqueous extract of garlic called Kyolic, or an oil extract called Garlicin (high in allicin), or placebo. No differences in lipid numbers including LDL cholesterol were observed.

(Full text at WebMD at http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/news/20070226/garlic-may-not-lower-cholesterol?ecd=wnl_chl_030507. You may be required to log in or register.)

I believe that the researchers were sincere in their effort to follow an honest, scientfically sound clinical trial design. I'm personally not that surprised. The effect in prior studies has been modest, sometimes none. Does that mean that we should ignore the other studies that suggest there may be modest blood-thinning, anti-inflammatory, blood pressure-reducing, and cancer-preventing properties? No, it does not. Dr. Matt Budoff at UCLA even published a very small study in about 20 people that suggested a slowing of plaque growth by using Kyolic in persons tracked by CT heart scans.

Nonetheless, garlic is, at best, probably no more than a source of small benefits. The biggest fallout from this kind of report, however, is not the neutral results from garlic, but from the open door the drug companies sense when this happens.

If you read the WebMD report, you'll notice all sorts of advertisements from drug companies for statin cholesterol drugs ("Cholesterol health center"; "Understanding Cholesterol Numbers"; "There are two sources of cholesterol: food and family"), Niaspan (which I used to support but have been discouraged by the Kos companies excessively profiteering methods and recent big Wall Street sellout).

It doesn't follow. The failure of one nutritional strategy to reduce LDL does nothave to trigger a run to the drugs. Don't fall for it. Drugs have their place. So do supplements and food choices, which can be very powerful. Drug manufacturers and their marketing people salivate when something like this comes along, an open invitation to say, "If garlic doesn't work, _____ sure does."

Comments (1) -

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 4:57:40 PM |

    If you read the WebMD report, you'll notice all sorts of advertisements from drug companies for statin cholesterol drugs ("Cholesterol health center"; "Understanding Cholesterol Numbers"; "There are two sources of cholesterol: food and family"), Niaspan (which I used to support but have been discouraged by the Kos companies excessively profiteering methods and recent big Wall Street sellout).

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Why does fish oil reduce triglycerides?

Why does fish oil reduce triglycerides?

Beyond its ability to slash risk for cardiovascular events, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil also reduce triglycerides.

There's no remaining question that omega-3s do this quite effectively. After all, the FDA approved prescription fish oil, Lovaza, to treat a condition called familial hypertriglyceridemia, an inherited condition in which very high triglycerides in the 100s or 1000s of milligrams typically develop.

The omega-3 fraction of fatty acids are unique for their triglyceride-reducing property. No other fraction of fatty acids, such as omega-6 or saturated, can match the triglyceride-reducing effect of omega-3s.

But why does fish oil reduce triglycerides?

First of all, what are triglycerides? As their name suggests, triglycerides consist of three ("tri-") fatty acids lined up along a glycerol (sugar) "backbone." Triglycerides are the form in which most fatty acids occur in the bloodstream, liver, and other organs. (Fatty acids, like omega-3, omega-6, mono- or polyunsaturated, or saturated, rarely occur as free fatty acids unbound to glycerol.) In various lipoproteins in the blood, like LDL, VLDL, and HDL, fatty acids occur as triglycerides.

Of all lipoproteins, chylomicrons (the large particle formed through intestinal absorption of fatty acids and transported to the liver via the lymph system) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein, very low-density because they are mostly fat and little protein) particles are richest in triglycerides. Thus, we would expect that omega-3s exert their triglyceride-reducing effect via reductions in either chylomicrons or VLDL.

Indeed, that seems to be the case. The emerging evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil reduce triglycerides through:

--Reduced VLDL production by the liver (Harris 1989)
--Accelerating chylomicron and VLDL elimination from the blood
--Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma)--Omega-3s ramp up the cellular equipment used to convert fatty acids to energy (oxidation) (Gani 2008)

Combine omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil with wheat elimination and you have an extremely potent means of reducing triglycerides. Read a previous Heart Scan Blog post here to read how a patient reduced triglycerides 93.5% from 3100 mg/dl to 210 mg/dl in just a few weeks using fish oil and wheat elimination.

Comments (9) -

  • Anonymous

    11/2/2009 12:34:35 AM |

    Very informative article.  Thank you for this posting. I better keep remembering to take my fish oil every morning!

    Diane Michel
    Founder GlobalMedicalResearch.org

  • Anonymous

    11/2/2009 4:55:48 PM |

    So much for the little boy with the loaves and the fishes, huh? I did not know that reduction of triglycerides involved the elimination of wheat products. I am not sure I am up to doing that part. I may just have to die.

  • Makoss

    11/2/2009 10:41:21 PM |

    Is DHA more favorable than EPA in lowering triglycerides?

  • Ellen

    11/3/2009 10:30:19 AM |

    Dr. Davis, my triglycerides are really low at 33 (and yes, I take fish oil). They are so slow that they are below the lab reference range.

    Is there such a thing as too low?

  • Dr. William Davis

    11/3/2009 12:41:57 PM |

    Makoss--

    To my knowledge, there are no data exploring the differential effect of DHA vs. EPA strictly for triglyceride reduction. Remember also that most data exploring cardiovascular risk reduction involve both, except for JELIS which showed event reduction with EPA alone.

    Hi, Ellen--

    In fact, your triglyceride level is what I believe to be the physiologically perfect level. So, no, not too low.

  • Kamila

    12/13/2009 2:52:33 PM |

    How do you respond to this Dr Davis.

    Q: Are fish oils good for you?

    Some of the unsaturated fats in fish are definitely less toxic than those in corn oil or soy oil, but that doesn't mean they are safe. Fifty years ago, it was found that a large amount of cod liver oil in dogs' diet increased their death rate from cancer by 20 times, from the usual 5% to 100%. A diet rich in fish oil causes intense production of toxic lipid peroxides, and has been observed to reduce a man's sperm count to zero. [H. Sinclair, Prog. Lipid Res. 25, 667, 1989.] Source:http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturated-oils.shtml

  • Kamila

    12/13/2009 3:10:00 PM |

    Another link:

    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 9:11:46 PM |

    Of all lipoproteins, chylomicrons (the large particle formed through intestinal absorption of fatty acids and transported to the liver via the lymph system) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein, very low-density because they are mostly fat and little protein) particles are richest in triglycerides. Thus, we would expect that omega-3s exert their triglyceride-reducing effect via reductions in either chylomicrons or VLDL.

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