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Does Artichoke Leaf Extract Lower Cholesterol?
Artichokes are a simple vegetable, but their leaves hide a cholesterol-lowering secret. Find out more below.
Medical professionals have told us for several decades that high cholesterol levels can be a danger sign for developing many dangerous health conditions. Each decade, health professionals and researchers learn more about what high cholesterol levels actually mean and better ways to improve our health.
Today, researchers believe that not all cholesterol is bad. In fact, cholesterol is necessary for many vital functions of the body. So, how does cholesterol turn from good to bad?
In its normal progression, cholesterol is a fat carried through the body by lipoproteins to help create new cells and keep the body health. However, LDL cholesterol is less-dense than normal cholesterol, and smaller in size. What this means is that the cholesterol is more likely to be “dropped.”
Dropped cholesterol sticks to artery walls, leading to a host of problems. White blood cells try to remove the dropped cholesterol, which converts it to an oxidized form that is toxic to the body. In an effort to remove the toxins, more white blood cells are sent to the area, leading to chronic inflammation. The longer the arteries are inflamed, the more cells and plaque build up in the arteries, leading to blocks.
Blocked arteries can cause a wide range of problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Recent studies have shown that artichoke may be able to stop the production and speed the elimination of bad cholesterol.
Artichoke is a vegetable that is surprisingly beneficial for eliminating bad cholesterol. An extract from the leaves of the globe artichoke (native to the Mediterranean), has been shown to lower cholesterol in numerous studies.
Artichoke contains high levels of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, choline, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Artichoke also contains cynarin, which is a compound that increases the production of bile in the liver and gallbladder.
Researchers speculate that the presence of cynarin may be what helps artichoke lower cholesterol, because the production of bile leads to the excretion of excess LDL cholesterol. Artichoke leaf can also limit the synthesis of cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme HMGCoA-reductase. Many cholesterol-lowering drugs contain this enzyme as well.
How effective is artichoke leaf extract in lowering LDL cholesterol? Take a look at the studies about artichoke extract outlined below: A 2000 study from Germany looked at 150 adults with cholesterol levels over 280. The participants took artichoke extracts for 6 weeks. After the study period was over, LDL cholesterol levels fell by 23 percent.
A 2008 study conducted by The University of Reading in the UK looked at 75 participants who supplemented with 1,280 mg of artichoke leaf extract for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, cholesterol levels dropped in the artichoke group by about 4 percent. Cholesterol levels rose in the control group by an average of 2 percent over this time.
A review of several previous artichoke studies published in a 2013 edition of Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, looked at three trials studying the effects of artichoke extract on cholesterol levels. According to the review, artichoke extracts are mildly beneficial for patients with moderately high LDL cholesterol levels.
Another 2013 study conducted by the University of Pavia in India looked at the benefits of artichoke leaf extract on 92 participants with high cholesterol. Supplements were given for 8 weeks. After the study period, all participants had lower total cholesterol levels, and a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
Based on these studies, artichoke extract shows promising results as a supplement for fighting LDL cholesterol. However, the benefit seen was mainly in mild to moderately high cholesterol levels and the progression of the supplementation was somewhat slow. In cases with high cholesterol levels, it may be necessary to take additional steps to prevent cholesterol levels from rising to unsafe levels.
Based on the above studies, higher dosages for lowering cholesterol are important when taking artichoke extract. A dosage between 1200 mg and 1900 mg per day of artichoke leaf extract are recommended. Take the extract in 2-3 doses per day for maximum effect.
Are there risks or side effects to taking artichoke leaf extracts? According to research, any side effects are commonly milk. The main side effects include intestinal gas or allergic reactions. Individuals who are allergic to products like marigolds, daisies, or other herbs, are at a higher risk for seeing an allergic reaction to artichoke extract.
Medical professionals recommend not taking artichoke leaf extract supplements in the following cases:
Since the benefits of artichoke extract are somewhat mild and take a while to fully develop, it is best to take the supplements in combination with other steps that will help lower LDL cholesterol. The following steps will maximize the effectiveness of any cholesterol-lowering plan:
The Mayo Clinic recommends the following 4 foods to help lower LDL cholesterol:
Fiber: Oatmeal and other fibrous foods that contain soluble fiber is able to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include beans, apples, barley, prunes, and pears. Soluble fiber also reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. It takes a daily intake of around 10 grams of fiber to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s reduce blood pressure and blood clots and can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Nuts can reduce blood cholesterol levels because of their polyunsaturated fat content. A handful a day of nuts can reduce your risk for heart disease. Choose nuts with low salt and sugar content for maximum benefit.
Olive oil has polyunsaturated fat and antioxidants that can help eliminate LDL cholesterol. 2 tablespoons a day can provide heart benefits. Look for olive oil from pure sources that is not adulterated with cheaper oils. Most grocery store olive oil is not pure. Pure olive oil should have a distinct taste, look greenish or orangish, and solidify in the refrigerator. Olive oil has a low oxidation point, so don’t use it for high-heat cooking. Instead, use it in salads and as a dip for bread.
Exercise is beneficial in fighting bad cholesterol. How does exercise help? Exercise stimulates the enzymes that carry LDL cholesterol out of the body. More exercise leads to more LDL excretion. Exercise also increases the size of the protein particles that carry cholesterol. Larger particles are safer and healthier.
According to a 2002 study from Duke University Medical Center, intense exercise is better for lowering cholesterol. Vigorous exercise (the equivalent of jogging 20 miles per week), showed the most benefit for lowering cholesterol levels.
Other supplements can work in combination with artichoke leaf extract to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Some other supplements that provide beneficial effects against LDL cholesterol include:
Garlic: Garlic is more than a delicious herb. It is surprisingly beneficial in the area of heart health in addition to providing immune system benefits. According to a 2001 study conducted by Loma Linda University in California, compounds in garlic are able to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which protects the heart and reduces the risk for heart attacks and heart disease.
Turmeric extract: Turmeric is known mainly for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, curcumin, an ingredient in turmeric, is also a powerful antioxidant, which can fight against cancer. A 2005 study from Egypt looked at the role of curcumin in rats with high cholesterol. The study showed that curcumin could affect cholesterol absorption, degradation, and elimination.
Gum Guggul Extract: How can gum guggul benefit cholesterol levels? gum guggul is used to lower high lipid levels in the body. A 1994 study from Medical Hospital and Research Centre in India looked at the combination of gum guggul and a diet high in fruits and vegetables. After 24 weeks, LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 12.5 percent, and triglycerides dropped by 12 percent. Total cholesterol levels dropped by 11.7 percent.
Artichoke leaf extract shows promising results as a treatment measure against cholesterol. Today, average cholesterol levels are rising steadily, thanks, in part, to sedentary lifestyles and diets rich in unhealthy fats. Whatever steps you can take to lower your cholesterol levels will be beneficial in keeping your body health. LDL cholesterol can lead to a variety of health problems that can have devastating or fatal effects on the body.
Artichoke alone, however, is probably not enough to control cholesterol levels. Studies show that a combination method, including several beneficial supplements; a diet rich in vitamins, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, and olive oil; and exercise are the best way to improve the health of your entire body and lower cholesterol levels naturally. The healthier your body is, the less bad cholesterol will be floating around causing problems and inflammation throughout your entire body.
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Resterol is a natural remedy that promotes healthy cholesterol levels. Works best when used in conjuction with a healthy diet such as the Paleo Diet.