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Antioxidants help arteries stay healthy in people at risk for heart disease

Thursday, July 22, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: antioxidants, arteries, health news

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(NaturalNews) Antioxidants are substances that protect cells against the effects of free radicals -- molecules produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to environmental toxins and radiation. Free radicals are believed to play a role in heart disease, cancer and other disorders. So it makes sense that antioxidants could help protect or even treat many health problems.

However, some poorly designed studies have given antioxidants mixed results (http://www.naturalnews.com/023357_pharmas_an...) and resulted in the mainstream media reporting that antioxidants are virtually worthless. But new research provides hard evidence that taking antioxidant supplements long-term produces dramatic benefits in people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

That's the conclusion of a randomized, controlled trial of vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium capsules. The research results, just reported in BioMed Central's journal Nutrition and Metabolism, show these dietary antioxidants produce multiple positive effects on sugar and fat metabolism, blood pressure and arterial flexibility (which allows blood to move freely through the body).

The study was conducted by scientist Reuven Zimlichman and his research team at Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. They randomly divided 70 high blood pressure patients into two groups. One group was given antioxidants supplements and the other took placebo capsules for six months. Those taking the antioxidants received vitamin C (1000 mg/day), vitamin E (400 i.u/day), coenzyme Q10 (120 mg/day) and selenium (200 mcg/day).

Tests at the beginning of the trial, after three months, and again after six months documented that patients in the antioxidant group had marked improvements in their cardiovascular health. They had more elastic arteries and better blood sugar levels. In addition, their cholesterol profiles were healthier with a significant increase in HDL, the so-called "good", heart-protective cholesterol. In fact, the researchers concluded "antioxidant supplements have the potential to alleviate atherosclerotic damage.."

"Antioxidant supplementation significantly increased large and small artery elasticity in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This beneficial vascular effect was associated with an improvement in glucose and lipid metabolism as well as significant decrease in blood pressure," Dr. Zimlichman said in a statement to the media. "The findings of the present study justify investigating the overall clinical impact of antioxidant treatment in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors."

More hopeful news for heart patients: another study by Dr. Zimlichman and colleagues published in the June issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, found that taking the amino acid L-arginine long-term also helped people with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. In this randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 90 patients were assigned to receive either oral L-arginine capsules or placebo capsules. After six months, tests indicated those taking L-arginine had improved vascular health -- including a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure.

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