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Carotenoid That Puts the Red in Salmon and Shrimp Improves Triglycerides and HDL

Researchers from Jikei University Kashiwa Hospital in Japan and Fuji Chemical Industry recently found new evidence that the carotenoid that gives salmon its pink color, called astaxanthin, may improve HDL"good" cholesterol levels among people with high LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The study was published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis.

For the study the researchers recruited 61 non-obese participants between 25-65 years of age who had not been previously diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension. The participants were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups which received 0, 6, 12, or 18 mg/day of astaxanthin for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study the researchers observed a reduction in blood triglyceride levels of 25% among the group given the highest dose of the pigment and a 24% reduction among the group given the second highest dose. They also found that people receiving 6 or 12 milligrams experienced a 10% and 15% increase in HDL cholesterol levels, respectively.

The researchers noted that although this study did not highlight the underlying mechanisms behind their results, it appears that astaxanthin may be effective for treating high cholesterol and reducing the risk of hypertension.

Astaxanthin has been reported to have 500 times the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E and it is believed that the benefits of this carotenoid may derive from this high level of antioxidants.

Previous studies have also shown that astaxanthin may improve eye, skin and joint health and may even boost nervous and immune system function.

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