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Why carrots may reduce cholesterol.

Why carrots may reduce cholesterol

Bile acids, which help digest fats in the diet, are made fromcholesterol. Normally, the body reuses bile acids over and over. But a small percentage does end up being lost, and when it is, the body must draw upon its cholesterol to synthesize more. For several years scientists have known that certain vegetable fibers not only bind bile acids, but also appear capable of reducing body cholesterol levels. After studying interactions between human bile acids and carrot fiber (mostly cell-wall fragments rich in pectin), Peter D. Hoagland and Philip E. Pfeffer of the Agriculture Department's Eastern Regional Research Center in Philadelphia now know why. Their findings indicate that calcium pectate appears responsible for most, if not all, of the fiber's binding of bile acids--and therefore for the vegetable's cholesterol-lowering ability.

Moreover, Hoagland says, "We've looked at onion andcabbage. Since they both have calcium pectate and bind bile acids, I think this [calcium-pectate binding] may be a fairly general effect." He says this suggests that for people with high blood levels of cholesterol, "It may be possible to lower it 10 or 20 percent just by increasing your dietary intake of carrots or similar vegetables." Alternatively, he believes substances like carrot fiber (or just its calcium pectate) could be developed as a healthy noncaloric filler for meats and baked goods, such as cakes and breads.

Their report appeared in the May/June JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURALAND FOOD CHEMISTRY.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 27, 1987
Words:241
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