By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
There are many different factors that could lead to better health.
Diet, exercise, and adequate sleep, are some of the different ways to help maintain your health and wellness.
Diet can play a key role in improving the health of your cardiovascular system and central nervous system, and it can also directly impact your weight loss.
What you eat can translate into improvements or even decreases in your health.
Now, research shows that by including foods that contain pterostilbenes, you may improve your cholesterol levels which can potentially improve heart health.
Let me explain…
Pterostilbenes are naturally occurring polyphenols found in blueberries, grapes, and cranberries.
Similar to Resveratrol, pterostilbenes are thought to contribute to the “French Paradox” in regards to heart health.
The French Paradox refers to the fact that people living in France that are exposed to high fat diets have lower cholesterol and deaths associated with cardiovascular disease than other countries.
Pterostilbenes, belong to a family of phytoalexins, which are chemicals produced by plants in response to exposure to harmful bacteria or fungi.
Research suggests that pterostilbenes have the ability to lower lipid and glucose levels found in your blood.
Structurally speaking, pterostilbenes are similar to resveratrol, but differ slightly in their chemical makeup.
This could result in pterostilbenes having better bioavailability (better oral uptake and uptake in your cells) in your body.
Research also shows that compared to resveratrol, pterostilbenes live longer in your blood, resulting in better absorption and use by your body.
Pterostilbenes may provide many health benefits including lowering of cholesterol levels.
They could also lower cholesterol by activating PPAR-alpha receptors in your body.
Pterostilbenes and Cholesterol
PPAR-alpha is a receptor found throughout your body.
However, when PPAR-alpha is activated in your liver, research shows, it has the potential to cause oxidation of fatty acids, which may lead to lower levels of triglycerides and VLDL cholesterol.
VLDL cholesterol is a type of very low density lipoprotein (cholesterol) found in the blood that is harder to break down in the body.
Increased VLDL cholesterol, research suggests, can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and altered cholesterol levels.
Research shows that pterostilbenes can activate liver PPAR-alpha levels, therefore regulating your cholesterol levels.
Both resveratrol and pterostilbenes are considered COX2 inhibitors, but that pterostilbenes could be more effective at lower levels, therefore potentially increasing its powerful health benefits.
In fact, a study conducted on hamsters aimed to determine if pterostilbenes is effective at activating the PPAR-alpha receptor, therefore lowering cholesterol levels in response to a high fat diet.
The researchers found that pterostilbenes showed an 8 -14 fold increase in the activity PPAR-alpha compared to controls.
They also showed that hamsters fed a diet supplemented with pterostilbenes, showed a 29% reduction in LDL cholesterol, and a 7% increase in HDL cholesterol compared to control hamsters.
They also noted a significant reduction in the ratio between HDL and LDL cholesterol.
They concluded that pterostilbenes have the ability to stimulate PPAR-alpha receptor sites, and may be more effective at stimulating PPAR-alpha receptors than resveratrol.
Pterostilbenes are powerful polyphenols which, research shows, could hold antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferation (the reproduction of a new cell) activity.
They could act similarly to resveratrol, but may be more absorbable in your body, therefore potentially increasing its benefits in your body.
Adding blueberries, cranberries, and grapes to your diet, has the potential to provide your body with adequate levels of pterostilbenes, which may improve your cholesterol levels, therefore improving your overall heart and general health.