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April 06, 2007

Oxidized Cholesterol in Dairy Protein Powders Part 2

In the last Blog article we talked about a study which looked at levels of oxidized cholesterol in dairy powders (protein powders) and how this level dramatically increased after only six months of sealed storage.


This study lends validity to what we at Integrated Supplements have been saying all along – that if your protein supplement powder contains cholesterol, that cholesterol is prone to oxidation, and oxidized cholesterol can be harmful to your health.

And if you know how the nutritional supplement industry works, it’s not surprising that most of the whey protein supplements on the market are formulated predominantly with the significantly less expensive whey protein concentrate, as opposed to the higher quality whey protein isolate.  These whey concentrate ingredients may contain on a gram-for-gram basis over 100 times – that’s right 100 times – the cholesterol of the finest filtered whey isolate

That’s why we at Integrated Supplements use only the finest whey protein available - CFM® Whey Protein Isolate – in our whey protein product.

Whey_group_w_3     It may sound like we’re beating a dead horse here, but there are still a huge number of individuals out there, even people within the nutritional supplement industry, who fail to see just how harmful oxidized cholesterol is, and hopefully studies like this one will help to open their eyes.

There’s also bound to be quite a few supplement companies who will feel threatened by this information, and will try to ignore or deny the nature of oxidized cholesterol in their products. 

So, if you’ve read this information before, bear with us, and realize that we need to make our case understandable and iron-clad, and we need to back it up with hard science like this:

Quote from the study:

As an unsaturated lipid, cholesterol is susceptible to oxidation under a variety of conditions.  In contact with air, it is autoxidized, forming cholesterol hydroperoxides, from which >30 secondary oxidation products, named COPS (cholesterol oxidation products), have been reported.  COPS have received much scientific attention due to their undesirable implications in human health, such as inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis, alteration of membrane function, cytotoxicity, and factoring in atherosclerosis.  Humans are capable of absorbing cholesterol oxides from foods into the bloodstream.

Basically, this quote tells us that cholesterol can oxidize when exposed to air, and that many different compounds can be formed when cholesterol oxidizes.

Think about that, cholesterol oxidizes when simply exposed to AIR.  Is that surprising to you?  It shouldn’t be – think about what happens to food when it’s exposed to air.  It spoils, right?  Well so do the lipids and cholesterol in your protein powder.

The study showed that after only six months of sealed storage, levels of oxidized cholesterol increased significantly in both whole milk powder AND skim milk powder.

So, How Much Did Oxidized Cholesterols Increase After Six Months of Storage?

Levels of total cholesterol oxidation products increased as follows:

Fresh Whole Milk Powder: 1.1 ug/g
Whole Milk Powder after 6 months: 6.8 ug/g

Fresh Skim Milk Powder: 0.01 ug/g
Skim Milk Powder after 6 months 7.7 ug/g

These are huge increases after only six months, and realize that as time goes on more of the cholesterol in a product is prone to oxidize.

But My Protein Supplement Has an Expiration Date On It – Doesn’t That Mean Anything?

Sorry, but in this context expiration dates mean absolutely nothing.  Most protein powders are months old by the time the final product is even produced, and then most products have an arbitrary expiration date stamped on the bottle. 

Most people don’t realize that the expiration dates you see on foods only indicate the time at which a food will begin to taste bad, NOT when the food begins to degrade nutritionally.

If a food tastes bad, it hurts a company’s bottom line, and THAT’S why expiration dates exist.  For the most part, it’s NOT to keep you from eating spoiled foods.  In fact, many harmful lipid peroxides – formed when food spoils – have NO taste, and may be formed WELL before a products’ “expiration date.”  Think of boxed cereals containing fatty nuts and seeds for example.

Why Haven’t I Heard About Oxidized Cholesterol Before?

Hundreds of studies show that oxidized cholesterol can interfere with our bodies own production of cholesterol, can lead to alterations in the way our cell membranes function, can be toxic to our cells, and can cause the buildup of arterial plaque characteristic of heart disease. 

I think it’s important to realize too, how well known these effects are among the scientific community.  The effects of oxidized cholesterol have been studied for decades, but even as their harmful nature has become well known among researchers, the average person’s intake of oxidized cholesterol has increased at the same time thanks to an increasingly processed food supply. 

The lesson here is: just because you haven’t heard about the harmful effects of oxidized cholesterol the same way you have about other dietary evils like trans fats, for example, doesn’t mean that their danger isn’t real.  It is real – and there are tons of studies backing this up.

And as we’ve mentioned elsewhere, don’t be surprised to hear supplement companies downplay the harmful role of oxidized cholesterol in their products.  They’ll try to compare the cholesterol in their powders with the cholesterol in real food, but, as we’ve shown, they’re not at all the same in their biological functions.  Cholesterol from real food is largely harmless, but powdered, oxidized cholesterol can be decidedly harmful.

If anybody tries to tell you any different, just refer them to the studies posted on this blog, or on www.IntegratedSupplements.com.

More to Come . . .



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