Because of the great efforts of the American Heart Association and other similar organizations, we have gained a lot of knowledge on cholesterol and its effects on our health. We know that high cholesterol levels increase our risk for heart attacks and strokes. We also know that lowering our cholesterol levels will reduce this risk and keep our hearts and blood vessels healthy. Additionally, we know that diet, weight loss, and exercise can help us lower our cholesterol levels. Prescription drugs that lower cholesterol have recently become available and advertised by pharmaceutical companies. However, these medications have some serious side effects including myopathy, reduction in CoQ10 levels, which can lead to heart disease, and rhabdomyaolysis, a rare, but fatal condition. Fortunately, there is a safe alternative to these prescription medications, pantethine and plant sterols, which are also known as phytosterols, are nature’s solution to high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol, a soft, waxy, fat-like substance, is found in every cell of the body. It is needed to help digest fats, strengthen cell membranes, insulate nerves, and make hormones. Made primarily by the liver, our body makes all the cholesterol that we actually need, but we also get additional cholesterol from the foods that we eat. The highest sources of cholesterol are egg yolks and organ meats including liver and kidney. Peanut butter, avocado, and all other plant-derived foods contain no cholesterol. However, all foods from animal sources do contain cholesterol. Even though cholesterol is responsible for many important functions in the body, too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can be very dangerous. Once blood cholesterol has reached high levels, it builds up on artery walls, and therefore increases the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. Because the heart is a muscle, it needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. The bloodstream, which transports these nutrients to the heart through coronary arteries, cannot transport the oxygen if the arteries become narrowed or clogged by cholesterol and fat deposits. Depending on the severity, this can result in coronary heart disease, angina, or heart attack.
Because cholesterol and other fats can’t dissolve in the blood, they can’t travel on their own. Instead, they are transported to and from cells by special carriers called lipoproteins. There are two major lipoproteins: low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and high density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. LDLs cause atherosclerosis because they clog up our arteries with the continual buildup of fat. On the other hand, HDL prevents fat buildup by carrying it away from the arteries to the liver, where it can be processed and eliminated.
Triglycerides, which are fats used as fuel by the body, can make the blood more sluggish and less capable of transporting oxygen when in high amounts. There are many medications prescribed by physicians for people with elevated triglyceride levels. Some of the most effective, and most harmful, are the statins. The all-natural combination of pantethine and plant sterols can safely lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing HDL cholesterol.
Pantethine, which is a form of pantothenic acid that is found in liver, salmon, and yeast, is known for its ability to lower cholesterol by blocking its production. The production of cholesterol in the human body is a very complex process, involving many biochemical reactions and enzyme activity. Pantethine inhibits several of these enzymes, blocking the activity of those coenzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis by about 50%. To compensate for the lowered cholesterol production, the liver pulls LDL out of the bloodstream, resulting in a lower total cholesterol level.
Plant sterols, which are the fats of plants, are found in nuts, vegetable oils, corn, and rice. They are structurally very similar to cholesterol and are therefore able to act as a stand in for cholesterol and block its absorption, causing it to be eventually excreted. If we eat enough plant sterols, the amount of cholesterol transported from the intestinal tract to the liver is greatly reduced. And, just like pantethine’s effect on the liver, this cholesterol reduction causes the liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood, which reduces both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Because the plant sterol and pantethine found in food just aren’t enough to have much of an effect on our health, we need to take a concentrated combination of pantethine and plant sterols in just the right ratio. Plant sterols, which are bound in fibers in the plants, can not be adequately consumed even if we ate lots of raw fruits and vegetables. There are also several forms of plant sterols, with some ratios of these plant sterols being more beneficial than others. While pantethine is found in several food sources, it is hard to get beneficial amounts from our food. Manufacturers of high quality nutritional supplements offer pantethine and plant sterols in the most beneficial ratio, proven by research. The best results are found when taking a combination of 400 mg of plant sterols and 200 mg of pantethine three times a day. Recent studies have shown that lowering cholesterol in people without heart disease can greatly reduce their risk for ever developing CHD, along with heart attacks and atherosclerosis. This is also true for those with high cholesterol levels and for those with average cholesterol levels. Most physicians would never consider prescribing statin drugs to people without actual heart disease or high cholesterol levels because of the many health risks of the drugs. However, the combination of pantethine and plant sterols are very effective in helping those people with heart disease, high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, as well as those just wanting the extra health insurance for their hearts. Pantethine and plant sterols are both very safe. Although some people may experience a mild upset stomach when first taking pantethine, taking the combination of pantethine and plant sterols with meals can usually solve this problem. Pantethine and plant sterols are available at your local or internet vitamin store.