Algal extracts may counter the effects of high cholesterol diet, researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have found.
The fractions and isolates derived from the algae culture "PAZ" were shown to be a viable candidate for supporting healthy cholesterol balance, in sharp contrast to the control group, researchers said.
The project, led by Smiti Gupta from Wayne State University, involved monitoring lipid metabolism in a widely accepted animal model for investigating human lipid metabolism.
The test group consumed algal-infused water while simultaneously consuming a high fat diet.
The algal fractions and isolates were shown to have a preventative beneficial effect against the negative effects of the high-fat diet on the animal's plasma cholesterol levels.
Specifically, the extracts significantly increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, or "good" cholesterol), and reduced non-HDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and the ratio of total cholesterol/HDL-C, despite the ongoing consumption of high fat food.
The test subjects in another recent study consumed a high fat diet for four weeks, at which point they became hypercholesterolemic, meaning they had high plasma cholesterol levels).
Subsequently, the animals were given the extracts for 0 (untreated), 3, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days while still on the high fat diet.
The results indicated that the PAZ extracts may be a useful option for improving the plasma cholesterol profile despite the hypercholesterolemic state induced by a high fat diet.
Specifically, "bad" cholesterol concentrations significantly decreased in all subjects consuming the PAZ extracts, compared to those who were not treated.
Furthermore, increased levels of "good" cholesterol could be seen as early as day three for that same group.
By day 21, "good" cholesterol levels increased by 28 per cent and "bad" cholesterol levels decreased by 30 per cent.
Administering the PAZ extract correlated with significantly decreased levels of several metabolites that are independent predictors of increased risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Gene expression analysis was also conducted, to get a deeper insight into the increase in plasma HDL-c levels. Thus the expression levels (mRNA) of proteins involved in HDL-c metabolism were evaluated.
By day ten, subjects showed a threefold increase in the gene expression of APO A1, a major protein associated with the production of HDL particles, the "good" cholesterol which increased sixfold by day 21.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism.