Nowadays cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are among the main causes of mortality and invalidity in Western and developing countries. They are responsible for 30% of deaths worldwide, numbers that are increasing year on year. Despite the widely recognized problem, it's still not clear that prevention goes through lifestyle changes. In fact, obesity, smoking and hypertension are just some of the factors that multiply the risk of developing these disorders, which are becoming a global epidemic.

Prevention, largely underutilized, could significantly reduce the spread of cardiovascular disease. But how is prevention done? What are the tools at our disposal?

Cardiovascular disease, HDL and LDL cholesterol

To prevent the risk of serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, according to the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, total values ​​of 200 mg/dl should not be exceeded, keeping below the threshold of 100 mg/dl for LDL cholesterol (above 50 mg/dl for HDL cholesterol). But what are the abbreviations HDL and LDL that we always see combined with cholesterol?

"Good" HDL and "bad" LDL cholesterol are the names by which HDL (High Density) and LDL (Low Density) lipoproteins are indicated, respectively. They are distinguished because they transport cholesterol and triglycerides to organs and tissues (HDL) or in the bloodstream (LDL). HDLs act as scavengers, collecting excess cholesterol and carrying it to the liver, where it can be excreted. Good cholesterol therefore plays a protective role in the body, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attack. How can we increase its levels without increasing those of the bad "brother" LDL?

Natural remedies? Food and sports

Cholesterol production occurs 80% endogenously (that is, it depends on our body, which produces it internally) and only 20% exogenously (therefore from the outside, linked to diet).

We must therefore work to improve our internal production and reduce the external contribution. The fundamental combination in this case is clearly diet&sport: physical activity, if combined with a healthy and balanced diet, allows you to increase the concentration of HDL. The absence of movement can lead to overweight, increasing risk factors, and due to our frenetic lives and increasingly disordered habits, it is easy to exceed the consumption of foods that promote LDL cholesterol, first of all trans fats, excess of simple sugars and hydrogenated fats.

Of course, if you want to improve your health and prevent CVD, you need to make some changes.

In addition to committing yourself to regular physical activity, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of fried foods, refined vegetable oils, bouillon cubes, trans fats, margarines, added sugars from sweets and industrial drinks, and limit the consumption of all fats of animal origin ( such as eggs, red meats and dairy products). The latter must absolutely not be eliminated, but their consumption must be reasoned.


There are many remedies that seem to be able to influence cholesterol levels, reducing LDL and increasing HDL. It's important to maintain good blood circulation, normal triglyceride levels, and support heart health, and several natural substances can help us do this best.

However, let's start with nutrition: we have seen what needs to be reduced, but not what must always be present in our dishes to ensure that our heart beats in full health. Indispensable are EVO oil, preferably raw, sources of Omega-3 fats, such as oily fish, wild salmon and walnuts, and soluble Fibre from fruit and vegetables. Yes also to foods rich in vitamins and minerals, powerful natural antioxidants.

If we examine plant extracts instead, we discover that supplementation can really make a difference in regulating cholesterol levels. Worthy of note are the Monacolin K from fermented red rice, the plant phytosterols and the olive tree extract. But how?

Monacolin K – Monacolins are molecules obtained from common red cooking rice, Oryza sativa, fermented thanks to the action of a yeast, Monascus purpureus (also known as "red yeast"). Monacolins were already used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat circulatory disorders, but starting from 1979 their beneficial action was confirmed. Thanks to experiments on red yeast, Professor Aika Endo realized that Monacolin K was able to inhibit a specific enzyme, HMG-CoA-Reductaseessential for the hepatic synthesis of cholesterol. Monacolin K, acting as a statin of vegetable origin, therefore "blocks" a key step in the production of cholesterol and is thus particularly effective for its metabolic management. Per the dosage, the European guidelines recommend an intake < 3 mg per day.

Plant phytosterols – Extracted from rice bran, gamma oryzanol is a functional substance for reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol. It also appears to reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. Its biological role is not fully clarified, but it has been found to be functional as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering agent and as a gastro-protector in various experimental studies, aimed at bringing out the interesting peculiarities of this molecule.

Oleuropeina– This substance is one of the flavonoids and vegetable polyphenols most present in the olive leaf extract. Secoiridoid glycoside, has been shown to function as a cardioprotective agent on the myocardium, as well as having a dual mechanism of action capable of promoting normal blood circulation and blood pressure regularity. It appears to act by inhibiting endothelial activation (an early stage of atherogenesis), reducing mechanisms involved in vascular damage and LDL oxidation. From a clinical point of view, olive leaves can be used in forms of arterial hypertension of a modest degree, where they cause hypotension through a mechanism of peripheral vasodilatation: the olive leaf extract has good tolerability and does not cause a depressant action on the heart and its validity has been demonstrated by multiple randomized and placebo-controlled studies. How much olive extract to take? At least 200mg.


It is therefore possible, with the right support and the correct precautions, to take care of our heart and circulation, preventing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and always keeping bad cholesterol levels under control.

Nutrition and sports are the key factors for health, to be supported with the plant extracts that nature offers us.


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