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Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2007 May;5(3):477-90.

Functional foods for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases: cholesterol and beyond.

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School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition McGill University, St-Anne-de-Bellevue, Qu├ębec, Canada.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death and disability in many developed countries. The purpose of this literature review is to establish a recommendation for the intake of functional food ingredients in a healthy diet--such as plant sterols (PSs) in low-fat and functional matrices, fatty acid composition and other nutrients of tree nuts and flavonoids in dark chocolate--for the prevention and treatment of CVD. These three specific functional foods are explored in this review, since there is a higher potential for their increased consumption by the population to prevent CVD. First, PS have been added to various nontraditional matrices, such as low-fat products and functional oils, which have shown cholesterol-lowering effects in most clinical trials. Secondly, a growing number of clinical studies indicate that the beneficial effect of tree nuts may not only be due to their fatty acid composition but to other key nutrients, which may provide supplementary health benefits, such as endothelial cell function, as well as decreasing total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). Lastly, flavonoids in dark chocolate may protect LDL-C particles from undergoing oxidative modification. However, some gaps in our knowledge need to be filled before firm recommendations can be made for habitual dark chocolate consumption. Overall, these functional foods should be considered as an addition to current lipid-lowering recommendations for improving CVD risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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