Mar. 23, 1999 ANAHEIM, Calif., March 22 -- Researchers say they have confirmed, for the first time, that blue-green algae taken as a nutritional supplement can significantly lower cholesterol in animals. Furthermore, the algae works in two ways to reduce cholesterol according to the scientists, who were speaking today at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
The alga Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is a novel dietary supplement already available on the market. AFA contains significant amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), according to Christian Drapeau of Cell Tech in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He says that the algae's PUFAs seem to be exceptionally well absorbed by animals. Over the past decade, other research has suggested that PUFAs reduce blood cholesterol and that PUFA deficiency is linked with cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, certain forms of cancer, attention deficit disorder, and more.
In addition to providing PUFAs, Drapeau says the cholesterol-lowering effects of AFA are "likely to be mediated by something else though this alternative mechanism remains unidentified." He adds that, in his experiments with rats, the beneficial effects seem to be independent of the PUFAs present.
Drapeau says this is one of the first studies that provides scientific data supporting the numerous testimonials and empirical evidence that have encouraged the use of AFA as a dietary supplement for health benefits. He cautions, however, "we are currently doing studies to determine if the effects of AFA on cholesterol in rats will translate to humans."
Drapeau collaborated with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
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