Functional foods and dietary supplements for the management of dyslipidaemia

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| Dyslipidaemia is characterized by increased blood levels of total or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, or decreased HDL cholesterol levels, and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Dyslipidaemia has a high worldwide prevalence, and many patients are turning to alternatives to pharmacotherapy to manage their lipid levels. Lifestyle modification should be emphasized in all patients to reduce cardiovascular risk and can be initiated before pharmacotherapy in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Many functional foods and natural health products have been investigated for potential lipid-lowering properties. Those with good evidence for a biochemical effect on plasma lipid levels include soy protein, green tea, plant sterols, probiotic yogurt, marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids and red yeast rice. Other products such as seaweed, berberine, hawthorn and garlic might confer some limited benefit in certain patient groups. Although none of these products can reduce lipid levels to the same extent as statins, most are safe to use in addition to other lifestyle modifications and pharmacotherapy. Natural health products marketed at individuals with dyslipidaemia, such as policosanol, guggulsterone and resveratrol, have minimal definitive evidence of a biochemical benefit. Additional research is required in this field, which should include large, high-quality randomized controlled trials with long follow-up periods to investigate associations with cardiovascular end points.

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