Dietary Intervention in Swine With Genetically Induced High Cholesterol

Reprinted from Standard Process

Standard Process researchers, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently published a study examining the effect of diet interventions on cholesterol levels in swine with a genetically altered tendency toward high cholesterol (the Rapacz familial hypercholesterolemic swine, or FHswine). Access to the animals was provided bythe Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dietary changes to decrease cholesterol intake are well accepted as a way to manage blood cholesterol levels. Changes such as incorporating phytosterols and fiber have been recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program; while other research suggests that polyphenols can affect cholesterol levels, as well. In this trial, researchers compared the effect of a first-generationstatin (Lovastatin) to the effect of dietary interventions on low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in FH swine.

They compared a control diet with and without Lovastatin to 7 diets that included
(alone and in combination):

  • Pectin from apples, a soluble fiber which turns into a gel when mixed with water and binds to fat to reduce absorption
  • Polyphenols, compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and some nuts
  • Phytosterols, cholesterol-like compounds found in plants

Some of the interesting findings were:

  • A statistically significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-C in the swine on the phytosterol diet.
  • The greater effectiveness of the phytosterol only diet over phytosterol combination diets. Researchers suggest the other compounds administered with the phytosterols could have affected their activity.
  • Unlike previous research indications, pectin alone did not lower cholesterol in this study.
  • The diets that included polyphenols seemed to decrease cholesterol in the early weeks, but tapered off toward the end of the study. The researchers did find that the pectin and polyphenol diet appeared to have more effect than the pectin diet alone.

These findings suggest that more research into the diet combination and interventions associated with cholesterol management is warranted. Because Lovastatin regulates the synthesis of cholesterol, and phytosterols decrease cholesterol absorption, the researchers concluded that further research should be done to determine if treatment of high LDL-C levels using diet as an adjuvant to statin treatment would yield better cholesterol management by potentially lowering dosage.

Useful Terms:
Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL or LDL-C )–”bad cholesterol”

Very Low-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL or VLDL-C)–also called “bad cholesterol”

High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)–”good cholesterol”

Triglycerides–make up most of the fat in food, it is the body’s way of transporting fat to cells.


Metzger BT, Barnes DM, Reed JD. (2009 Aug). A comparison of pectin, polyphenols, and phytosterols, alone or in combination, to lovastatin for reduction of serum lipids in familial hypercholesterolemic swine. J Med Food. 12 (4): 854-60.


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