Pasta Supplemented with Opuntia ficus-indica Extract Improves Metabolic Parameters and Reduces Atherogenic Small Dense Low-Density Lipoproteins in Patients with Risk Factors for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Four-Week Intervention Study
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Abstract: Food supplementation with Opuntia ficus-indica (OFI) has been associated with a significant reduction in total cholesterol, body fat, hyperglycemia and blood pressure. Since OFI may also have antioxidant and anti-atherogenic properties, we hypothesized that its supplementation might reduce atherogenic lipoproteins, including small, dense low-density lipoproteins (sdLDL). Forty-nine patients (13 men and 36 women, mean age: 56 _ 5 years) with one or two criteria for the metabolic syndrome weekly consumed 500 g of pasta supplemented with 3% OFI extract (30% of insoluble polysaccharides with high antioxidant power) for 1 month. The full LDL subclass profile was assessed by gel electrophoresis (Lipoprint, Quantimetrix, Redondo Beach, CA, USA). After 1 month of pasta supplementation, waist circumference (p = 0.0297), plasma glucose (p < 0.0001), triglycerides (p = 0.0137), plasma creatinine (p = 0.0244), urea and aspartate transaminase (p < 0.0001 for each) significantly decreased. A percentage increase in larger, less atherogenic LDL-1 (p = 0.0002), with a concomitant reduction in smaller, denser LDL-2 (p < 0.0001) and LDL-3 (p = 0.0004), were found. LDL-4 and-5 decreased, although not significantly. This is the first intervention study suggesting that pasta enriched with an OFI extract may have beneficial e_ects on some metabolic parameters and the LDL particle sizes, reducing atherogenic sdLDL. Future studies will help to establish if these findings impact cardiovascular outcomes.