A new study has shown that dietary supplementation with lipoic acid, a natural compound found at low levels in red meat and green leafy vegetables, can significantly reduce triglycerides, a key risk factor in cardiovascular disease.
While experimenting on rats, the researchers found that supplements of lipoic acid lowered triglyceride levels up to 60 percent.
"The extent of triglyceride reduction was really dramatic, we didn't expect it to be this profound," said Regis Moreau, an assistant professor with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
"The potential is good that this could become another way to lower blood triglycerides and help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. It's pretty exciting," he added.
The researchers found that supplements of lipoic acid appeared to affect triglyceride levels through two pathways.
They said that lipoic acid supplementation increased the rate of disappearance of triglycerides in the bloodstream, and reduced the genetic expression of enzymes in the liver that synthesize triglycerides.
"We believe that a novel means of controlling triglyceridemia in this animal model has been revealed," wrote the researchers.
"Given its strong safety record, lipoic acid may have therapeutic applications for the treatment or prevention of hypertriglyceridemia and diabetic dyslipidemia in humans," they added.
The results appear in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics.