Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are recognized worldwide as one of the main causes of death. As among the male and female population of the planet, regardless of race or ethnicity.
The development and progression of cardiovascular diseases is associated with the presence of such risk factors as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, obesity and diabetes mellitus. It is known that cholesterol is an indicator of an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
It is generally recognized that low-density cholesterol levels in the blood above 130 mg / dl, high-density cholesterol below 35 mg / dl and total cholesterol in excess of 200 mg / dl are problematic indicators. Simply put, the risk of cardiovascular disease is directly related to cholesterol levels.
It has been suggested that reducing consumption of saturated and increasing unsaturated fatty acids is beneficial and prevents CVD. Therefore, the role of diet therapy in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is difficult to overestimate.
Studies have clearly established that reducing the intake of saturated and trans fats is a good way to combat hypertension. In this context, it is important to note that the consumption of foods low in animal fat and the increased use of unsaturated fats can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Although amaranth has been known to mankind for a long time, it was remembered about it only two or three decades ago, when its detailed research began, including in pharmacology.
The leaves and grains of the “unfading flower” (translated from Greek) have been used for thousands of years, but amaranth is the food of the future. Bread is made from it, desserts are made, they are fed cattle, medicines and means for rejuvenation are prepared from it.
On the nutritional properties and benefits of amaranth, we have already mentioned in the article “The benefits of amaranth: scientific research.” Its grains contain more protein and lysine than in many common cereals. On the content of oil amaranth surpasses many cereals. Even the leaves during the flowering period are considered a good source of protein. Although the green part of the plant is still poorly studied, it is recognized that the leaves contain more iron, calcium, phosphorus, carotenoids and other trace elements than many vegetables.
Amaranth is a broad-leaved plant with a large number of seeds from which flour with a high content of calcium, iron, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, tocotrienol compounds and squalene can be produced. It is the latter that affect cholesterol biosynthesis.
Amaranth grain contains from 6 to 10% oil with a high percentage of acids (76%) necessary for human nutrition. The oil extracted from Amaranthus Cruentus contains up to 19% palmitic, 3.4% stearic, 34% oleic, and 33% linoleic acid. The ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is approximately one to three.
Paniculatus and cruentus varieties have been found to be good sources of flavonoids (plant polyphenols). The use of amaranth as animal feed, which we also wrote about in the article “Amaranth: Value for Livestock”, showed high efficiency.
Currently, amaranth-based products are being commercialized. Studies show the effectiveness of amaranth oil in cosmetic procedures, the treatment of acne and psoriasis (“Amaranth oil in psoriasis: features of use, indications and contraindications”). The plant is a good component of the modern diet.
The classical methods of obtaining oil from seeds are not very applicable in the case of Amaranth, because its seeds are very small and strong. The usual method of chemical extraction is considered not entirely economically feasible.
Instead, new technology and devices are being created to extract oil from amaranth seeds with the maximum possible preservation of vitamin E and squalene. This allows you to more effectively analyze its physico-chemical and pharmacological properties. In addition, new formulas are being prepared based on natural ingredients for people at risk of CVD.
Since the beginning of the 90s of the last century, studies of the medical, biological and pharmacological properties of amaranth have been actively conducted in order to determine the applicability for the treatment of chronic diseases.
The first experimental evidence of cholesterol lowering in animals and humans when taking amaranth oil is already available.
Testing Amaranth as a means for the prevention and treatment of hypertension and coronary artery disease
In a study on animals conducted by Canadian scientists, hamsters received a low-fat diet with hypercholesterolemia, which included taking 2.5 and 5% crude amaranth oil for four weeks. In animals, there was a decrease in “harmful” low-density lipoprotein from 15 to 22%. Moreover, the result is directly proportional to the percentage of oil in food.
Similar results were obtained in another four-week study that showed a gradual decrease in cholesterol in the blood of a hamster. In another study, experimental animals were chickens who were fed Amaranth grains. The results showed a clear decrease in cholesterol levels in their blood. It is believed to be influenced by tocotrienols and squalene.
Recent studies prove the stabilizing effect of Amaranth oil on the content of erythrocytes in human blood and the state of their membranes. The result of the application was evaluated using the effect of valinomycin – a polymer that increases the permeability of the membrane for potassium ions.
It is known that in hypertension, the blood cell membrane becomes defective. The movement of sodium and potassium ions through it will be inadequate, which may contribute to an increase in blood pressure. As a result of research, it was found that amaranth oil has a stabilizing effect on the erythrocyte ion channels.
A recent study showed the dose-dependent effect of Amaranth oil on diet therapy in patients with signs of coronary disease and hypertension, accompanied by obesity. The experiment involved several groups of people.
In the control group, 40 people were selected with ischemic heart disease and first and second degree arterial hypertension, accompanied by first and third degree obesity. And the second included 80 men and women aged 32 to 68 years old who have the same problems. Both groups were monitored for three weeks.
Everyone received an anti-atherogenic (cholesterol-lowering) diet, did physical exercises and underwent hydro- and physiotherapy. In the diet of sixty of them, instead of sunflower oil, various doses of Amaranth oil (6 ml / day, 12 ml / g or 18 ml / g), obtained by the method of spinning were included. The rest used the considered most effective Mediterranean diet.
Evaluation of results
Organoleptic characteristics and tolerability were evaluated in a clinical setting based on the presence and intensity of side effects as a result of taking Amaranth oil. By the way, more than 80% of the participants in the experiment liked to take it for food. The oil did not cause rejection or allergic reactions in anyone, and its taste was found to be satisfactory. But this is not important.
By the end of the trial period, the systolic blood pressure of patients in all groups decreased in different ways, depending on the amount of oil in the diet: by 18% (6 ml / g), 19% (12 ml / g) and 21% (18 ml / g) . Diastolic blood pressure decreased by 14, 15 and 19%, respectively. The inclusion of Amaranth oil in the diet also contributed to a statistically significant reduction in total cholesterol by 14, 17 and 20%, respectively. The blood levels of triglycerides and very low density lipoproteins (“bad cholesterol”) decreased by 13, 21 and 36%, while the level of low density lipoproteins fell by 19, 23 and 25%, respectively.
In addition, the atherogenic index decreased by 18, 23 and 32%. At the same time, the subjects’ level of “good cholesterol” remained almost unchanged. And in the control group it was noted a decrease of 9%! In healthy subjects of this group who ate with fish oil, a decrease in pressure was noted. While using amaranth, this was not observed. There were no differences in weight loss.
Researchers appreciate Amaranth’s antioxidant properties, suggesting that they can be used to correct hyperglycemia. A significant increase in antioxidant protection enzymes was observed in proportion to the concentration of oil in the diet.
Given the important role of immunity, an attempt was made to evaluate the immunomodulatory effects. As it turned out, a significantly greater increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokines responsible for immunoreaction was observed in the blood of patients who were dieting with amaranth oil.
The next step for researchers was to study the mechanism of cholesterol lowering. First of all, the role in this process of squalene and phytosterols, which are homologues of cholesterol. It was found that phytosterols interfere with the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
Amaranth in the treatment of hypertension and coronary heart disease – a favorable prognosis
Based on the research, the following conclusions were made:
- The inclusion of amaranth oil in the diet has a beneficial effect on the clinical manifestations of coronary heart disease and arterial hypertension. It helps to increase the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially the long-chain acids of the omega-3 family, which is vital for patients suffering from hypertension and coronary disease.
- Effective action is observed at a daily dose of 18 ml.
- Amaranth oil can be considered as an effective natural antioxidant that protects the cell membrane.
It is clear that amaranth oil can reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood serum and can be recommended as a functional food product for the prevention and treatment of CVD. Oil intake will help reduce pressure and may serve as an alternative to drug therapy for people suffering from hypertension and coronary heart disease. The nutrients contained in it inhibit the development of inflammatory processes, reduce the risk of atherosclerotic plaques, dilate blood vessels, normalize the rhythm and speed of myocardial contraction.
It is already known that preparations based on extracts from amaranth are recommended for use in oncology. Read more about this article “Amaranth and amaranth oil in oncology: useful properties and recommendations for use.” Now it is possible to make another well-founded conclusion that such insidious enemies of our health, such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, are included in the list of diseases subject to Amaranth.