| ||Interviews with Nutritional Experts: How Antioxidant Nutrients Protect Against Heart Disease ||
This article discusses the very latest findings on how antioxidant nutrients
prevent heart disease, and then forms the background for a series of articles
that explain in lay terms, "how" this occurs. An important point
of my new book, The New Supernutrition, is that heart disease is
not caused so much by what you eat as by what you don't eat. 
It is difficult for the average person to understand that the nutrients
such as beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E, and the mineral selenium are
more important to heart health than how much cholesterol is in their diet.
Merely presenting the evidence is not sufficient as the public needs some
easy-to-understand mental images so they can grasp the concept.
From time to time, I have pointed out current research showing that antioxidant
nutrients protect against heart disease. However, by the time I cover the
research findings, I have no space left for a scientifically correct --
but plain English -- explanation of how these nutrients provide their protection.
I have had to be content with using general descriptions of how antioxidants
prevent the free-radical damage that causes heart disease.
This has served well for explaining how the nutrients prevent the damage
to the artery linings that starts the heart disease process. However, since
the public has been taught an oversimplified -- and incorrect -- concept
concerning cholesterol, the action of free radicals on the lipoproteins
that transport cholesterol in the bloodstream is hard for some to visualize.
Now I have been dealing with this "communications" problem for
more than twenty five years. The terms "free radicals" and "lipoproteins"
have become buzzwords that have helped many understand some pretty complicated
biochemical processes. The first time that the term "free radical"
was introduced to the general public was in an article about my 1960's research
which appeared in the Ladies Home Journal .  Prevention
brought my free-radical research to the attention of the lay nutrition audience
in 1971.  And, I was first to describe high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
-- the "good" cholesterol -- and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
-- the "bad" cholesterol -- in my 1977 book, Supernutrition
For Healthy Hearts.  But now it is time to discuss the structures
of lipoproteins and lipoprotein receptors and the role of antioxidant nutrients.
More "New" Evidence
So much for the introduction to this series. By the way, there are so many
new and interesting topics to write about, that I won't present the entire
series in consecutive installments. One thing I have learned from lecturing
is to make my point early or I will lose my audience. I often begin my lectures
with my point, which is opposed to the general practice of building up to
the point. This is how I will present this series. I will now present the
conclusion, and leave the background and explanations for the later sections.
Some of the high-lights are:
1) Several new studies show that antioxidant vitamins prevent heart disease.
2) We now know how HDL removes cholesterol from the interior of a
cell, even though the HDL receptor is attached to the cell membrane.
3) Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] is one of the best markers of heart disease risk,
and it in turn is controlled by vitamin C.
|Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D. has been a research biochemist since 1959. His first areas of research was in the development of pharmaceuticals and analytical chemistry. His laboratory research led to his discovery of......more