11 posts categorized "Nutritional Supplements"

April 05, 2007

Study Finds Oxidized Cholesterol In All Dairy Powders Tested - Levels Increased With Storage

ProteinScoopWhen a cholesterol molecule interacts with oxygen, oxidized cholesterol may be formed.  While unoxidized, or native cholesterol is an important substance needed for the building of cellular structure and hormone synthesis, oxidized cholesterol is metabolized differently, and may be a unique contributor to heart disease and other types of metabolic and hormonal disruption.

Oxidized cholesterol, for example, has been implicated in the development of atherogenesis – the thickening of the arterial wall due to the build-up of fatty material – in other words, the beginning of the clogged arteries of heart disease:

Study Link - Atherogenic effect of oxidized products of cholesterol.

Quote from the above study:

Cholesterol under certain in vitro and possibly in vivo conditions may be oxidized to oxysterols, which are suspected of being initiators of atherosclerotic plaques… Dietary oxysterols are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and are selectively transported by the athrogenic lipoproteins LDL and VLDL. The oxysterols cholestanetriol and 25-OH cholesterol have been shown to be atherogenic. Oxysterols are commonly found in dried egg products, powdered milk, cheeses and in a variety of high temperature dried animal products.

As the above study indicates, cholesterol can oxidize inside our body, but it can also oxidize in the foods we eat.  While fresh cholesterol-containing foods, cooked normally, contain relatively low levels of oxidized cholesterol, cholesterol-containing dried, powdered, and “shelf-stable” foods are apt to contain relatively high levels of oxidized cholesterol.  This includes foods such as powdered eggs, powdered milk, powdered cheese, and whey protein concentrate.

Studies have shown that the oxidized cholesterol in such foods is absorbed and is taken up by the cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins, leading researchers to note that dietary sources of oxidized cholesterol may be unique contributors to atherosclerosis:

Study Link - Oxidized cholesterol in the diet is a source of oxidized lipoproteins in human serum.

Quote from the above study:

It is possible that oxidized cholesterol in the diet accelerates atherosclerosis by increasing oxidized cholesterol levels in circulating LDL and chylomicron remnants.

So, the existing research clearly implicates oxidized cholesterol as a contributing factor to the atherosclerotic plaque of heart disease.  The research also shows that oxidized cholesterol is able to be absorbed from the foods we eat and is taken up as part of the LDL particle.  It’s logical to wonder, therefore: how much oxidized cholesterol is actually in the foods we eat?

Oxidized Cholesterol in Protein Powders

Ironically, many supposedly health-conscious people may be consuming particularly high levels of oxidized cholesterol.  Some dairy powders – especially whey protein concentrate used in many protein drinks and sports supplements – contain remarkably high levels of cholesterol.  Because it’s a relatively cheap source of protein (relative to higher-quality whey isolates), supplement companies often use high amounts of whey concentrate in their formulations.  As such, it’s not uncommon for a serving of a whey-concentrate-based protein powder to contain 20, 30, 40, or even more milligrams of cholesterol per serving.

Researchers who have studied the formation of cholesterol oxides in such dairy powders have found their level to increase in relationship to the amount of time the product was stored:

Study Link - Determination of Cholesterol Oxides in Dairy Products. Effect of Storage Conditions.

Quote from the above study:

We also observed a relationship between storage time and cholesterol oxide generation.

In the above study, cholesterol oxide generation increased steadily even when the products were stored sealed at room temperature.

Time In Storage is The Key

It’s important to note that oxidized cholesterol generally wasn’t formed when these dairy powders were produced – even though the dairy from which they came was pasteurized, and they were exposed to additional heat and oxygen during the production of the powders.  The real driver of cholesterol oxidation was time in storage.  For this reason, it’s safe to assume that cholesterol oxidation will occur over time in any cholesterol-containing powder regardless of how (or at what temperature) the powder was produced.  This includes whey concentrate products marketed as organic, or from grass-fed cows, etc.  If there’s cholesterol in a powder, there’s simply no viable way to prevent its continual oxidation during the shelf life of the product.

This is why we at Integrated Supplements have advocated products made exclusively with ceramic-filtered CFM whey isolate.  This is a process by which whey protein is rid of essentially all cholesterol and lactose, and which maintains the integrity of all delicate whey microfractions.


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