Antioxidants

Any discussion of preventing excess LDL oxidation and oxidative radicals would not be complete without reviewing antioxidants. Active antioxidants such as lecithin and octacosanol from whole grains; polyphenols and sterols contained in fruits and vegetables; lycopene and other phytochemicals from tomatoes; sulfur/allicin from onions and garlic; pectin, rutin and quercetin from apples; phytocyanidins and antioxidant flavonoids such as apigenin and luteolin from various greenfoods; and anthocyanins from various fruits and oats are all antioxidants known for cardiovascular benefits. Blueberries and tart cherries have also been touted for their oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). In vitro testing has also confirmed cranberry’s ability to interrupt LDL oxidation26.

One of the newest additions to the bevy of high-ORAC nutraceuticals is the Maqui Superberry. This small purplish fruit grown in Chile is about the size of an elderberry (another good antioxidant fruit), and is bursting with anthocyanins. According to Novelle International, the exclusive U.S. importer of Maqui, the juice concentrate has an ORAC value of more than 800,000 mmole TE/kg and an anthocyanin value of 22,420 mg/kg. Annie Eng, Novelle’s founder and CEO, explains that Maqui is currently undergoing a flurry of research in Chile. “Preliminary research indicates that Maqui exhibits high anti-inflammatory activity and inhibits COX-2 enzymes,” she commented.

The extract of vitis vinifera seed (grapeseed) is one of the highest sources of bound antioxidant proanthocyanidins called procyanidolic oligomers, or “PCOs.” Research has demonstrated that PCOs from grapeseed extract have a protective and strengthening effect on the lining of artery walls by increasing enzyme conjugation27; greater collagen fiber crosslinking28; decreased artery wall permeability29; increased glycoprotein and sulphated glycosaminoglycan synthesis30; inhibited hyaluronan-varicosis31; increased vascular wall strength32; reinforced vascular connective tissue33; reduced elastin-associated cholesterol34; lower risk and incidence of cerebral microvessel permeability35; and decreased proteinuria36. One clinical study on four groups of 10 varicose vein patients each showed that PCOs increase venous tone as compared to placebo and controls37. In another clinical trial, grapeseed PCOs resulted in increased plasma anti-oxidation and inhibition of LDL oxidation38.

Oxygenated carotenoids such as lutein and astaxanthin also have been shown to exhibit antioxidant activity. Astaxanthin is derived from the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. 

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