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Combining These Two Nutrients May Help Lower Cholesterol

Women tend to have an increased risk of heart disease after menopause, partly because their cholesterol levels go up. A recent study suggests that taking the carotenoid beta-cryoxanthin together with phytosterols in the form of a fruit drink may help lower cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.

Beta-cryptoxanthin is a provitamin A carotenoid, which means it converts to vitamin A in the body. Phytosterols are fats found in plants and previous studies have shown them to be associated with lowering cholesterol.

Participants in the study included 38 postmenopausal women who either drank a fruit drink containing beta-cryoxanthin and phytosterols or a placebo drink for four weeks. At the end of that period, all of the women underwent a four week washout period before switching interventions for another four weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that the beta-cryoxanthin/phytosterols group had a decrease in LDL and total cholesterol of approximately 6%. The combination group also saw reduced biomarkers of bone turnover, suggesting the two nutrients may be beneficial in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Researchers from the Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda in Madrid, the University of Valencia, and the Hero Group conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 6, 2014, in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Carotenoids are the phytochemicals that provide the bright red, orange or yellow color to many fruits and vegetables. They serve as antioxidants and can be a good source of vitamin A. They have been shown in previous research to protect against cardiovascular disease, macular eye disease and some cancers.

If you want to increase your carotenoid intake, make sure that your meals contain a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors. The beneficial actions of carotenoids are optimal when a variety of carotenoids are consumed together.

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