Monday, 2 December 2013

Mangosteen May Help In Reversing High Cholesterol

Hamburgers, fries, pizzas, and fried chicken are among the foods we love to binge on. Fast-food joints serving them make it easier for us to give in to our cravings. As we grow older, we realize that we can no longer enjoy these gastronomic delights the way we used to, because we have to watch out for the cholesterol in our diet. Otherwise, we are put in the danger zone for several cardiovascular diseases it may lead us to.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance present in the body. Cholesterol is an essential part of life. They are an integral part of the cell membranes, take part in the manufacturing of hormones, break down carbohydrates and proteins, and produce bile.

Cholesterol is transported by lipoproteins in the blood stream. There are different kinds of lipoproteins with distinct functions:

  • High density lipoproteins (HDL)

They are also called the good cholesterol. They are stable and move easily through the blood. They carry cholesterol away from the arteries, back into the liver where they can be removed from the body. Diseases affecting the liver can affect the HDL from performing their beneficial roles.

  • Low density lipoproteins (LDL)

These are the bad guys (aka bad cholesterol). They are unstable and tend to stick to the arterial walls and are implicated in the process of plaque formation or atherosclerosis, which leads to various serious complications.

  • Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL)

These carry triglycerides and cholesterol, thus are considered to be harmful.

  • Intermediate-density lipoproteins

Similar to VLDLs, these also carry triglycerides and cholesterol.

  • Chylomicrons

These are very large particles that are rich in triglycerides. Triglycerides are the main constituents of vegetable oil and animal fats.

Cholesterol and Heart Disease

High cholesterol level is considered to be a risk factor for the development of heart diseases. It contributes to the process of atherosclerosis or plaque formation within the wall of the arteries. This leads to serious consequences when the blood supply to an organ is restricted, due to the blockage by the plaque.

In the process of atherosclerosis, cholesterol is brought to the site of injury to the arterial lining through LDL. It interacts with free radicals and become oxidized. The oxidized LDL releases toxins and stimulates the inflammation process further, which adds to the damage. It joins with white blood cells to form the lipid foam, which is later capped with calcium deposits that cause hardening.

The elasticity of the artery is lost, while the passage of blood is prevented by the plaque. When atherosclerosis progresses, the plaque may rupture, dislodging its contents to smaller arteries which can be completely occluded.

When an artery supplying the heart is affected, it can lead to heart attack which may ultimately cause death.

Who is Prone to Having High Cholesterol Levels?

If you are born to a family known to have high cholesterol levels, chances are, you are prone to inheriting the disease as well. But other factors play a role too. Older age, the presence of concomitant hypertension and diabetes, a high saturated fat diet, obesity, and lack of exercise could all increase your cholesterol levels.

The Wonders of Mangosteen

Mangosteen is an exotic fruit that grows in tropical countries. The mangosteen tree requires abundant moisture and warm environment throughout the year. It is predominantly found in Southeast Asia, in countries like Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia. In Asia, it is regarded as the “queen of fruits.”

For more than a thousand years, it has been used as an herbal remedy for various ailments. Recent researches are finding more good things about mangosteen and how it can solve the many health problems we are facing.

Mangosteen is a round, purple colored fruit that has a fine tasting white soft pulp that somewhat melts in your mouth. The pericarp or rind, is the richest source of medicinal properties of the fruit.

The pericarp is the puple hard outer shell of mangosteen measuring about half a centimetre thick. The purplish juice coming from it can stain your clothes, which is almost impossible to remove. This is the reason why mangosteen is banned from hotels in countries where this is available. Although the health benefits can also be found in the fruit pulp, it is lower in concentration compared to the amount that is highly concentrated in the pericarp.

Xanthones are substances found in mangosteen found to have powerful antioxidant effects. There are around 40 xanthones found in mangosteen known to help prevent damage to cells by free radicals, slow the process of aging, and protect the body against degenerative diseases.

How Does Mangosteen Help in Reversing High Cholesterol Levels?

Supplementation with mangosteen, coupled with regular exercise and healthy diet, are found to help lower the levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein), while raising the good cholesterol.

Scientific research studies have revealed that gamma mangostin , a xanthone found in mangosteen, is a powerful antioxidant that showed more potent activities than vitamin E. It prevents the oxidation of bad cholesterol or LDL, which is responsible for clogging the arteries, leading to serious cardiovascular consequences.

The cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme (COX-2) which is linked to the inflammatory process, is known to be inhibited by gamma mangostin. Low level inflammation is often associated with high cholesterol levels.

Polyphenols, also present in mangosteen, were discovered to be five times more potent than vitamin C as to its antioxidant properties.

Choosing Mangosteen Supplements

Between the juice and capsule form of mangosteen, choose the latter because it will provide you with the maximum benefits you are after. While the juice form is great-tasting, it only contains a little percentage of mangosteen (the main ingredient) because it has to be mixed with other fruit extracts and preservatives. The capsule form comes in 100% mangosteen.

The juice form makes use of both the pericarp and the pulp, while the capsule form uses only the pericarp, where the xanthones are richest. Although the juice appears to maximize the xanthones in both pericarp and pulp, the processes it has to go through, to manufacture the juice, destroys the innate healing properties in mangosteen.

Pasteurization has to be done to the juice form to slow down the growth of harmful microorganisms. While this protects you from infectious agents, it also kills the biologically active components in mangosteen needed to address your health concerns.

As required by law, the whole fruit that has to be brought in to the United States from other countries where it was grown, has to go through irradiation to kill potentially debilitating pests. The capsule form only uses the husk, where all the good stuffs are concentrated, thus doesn’t have to undergo irradiation. The idea of taking in foods that has been exposed to radiation is something you may want to think about.

When it comes to your health, do not take any chances. Choose wisely.


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