The polar lipid link

Food security and cardioprotection

Today, it is still not entirely clear why some cohorts in the 7 countries study of A. Keys had coronary heart disease (CHD) at low frequencies but high levels of serum cholesterol [1]. Do we really need to lower our serum cholesterol in order to protect ourselves from CHD? Do we really need statins or would we better protected by food polar lipids?

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are now preventable but they are still the top global cause of death and stroke affecting millions of people around the globe.  Given their link to diet and nutritional/eating patterns, CVDs are on the focal point for many pharmaceutical, neutraceutical and food companies.

On the other hand, food availability and food sustainability are top priorities world-wide. Let us remind ourselves that the term “food security” has 2 dimensions: first, it implies that food is available, accessible, and affordable in sufficient quantity and quality. Second, it implies an assurance that this state of affairs can reasonably be expected to continue; or in other words, that it can be sustained.

It is, thus, rather urgent to focus research in Life Sciences on food functionality against CVDs and how we can achieve such functionality in a sustainable way. An interdisciplinary approach is urgently needed: we need indeed to address the issues of food security and cardioprotection simultaneously. The reason is simple: sardine oil has some strong cardioprotective properties [2] but if we keep fishing wild sardines, the sardine stocks will be depleted and soon we will not have enough quantities of sardine oil to produce omega-3 pills and fish oil for aquaculture!

So, we need to re-evaluate our practices. The projected increase in world population and therefore demand for food in the foreseeable future pose some risks on how secure is the food production system today. Millions of people are threatened by malnutrition, CVDs, diabetes, and obesity. This is a multidimensional challenge: the production of food needs to be increased but also the quality of food needs to be improved so less people suffer from undernourishment and CVDs. We need to address this problem by critically evaluating recent developments on the role of food components against CVDs, presenting recent insights for assessing the nutritional value of food and suggesting novel approaches toward the sustainable production of food that would, in turn, lead to increased food security. We need to tackle the issue of the sustainability of lipid sources and GM crops from a food security point of view, with “sustainability” and “functionality” as our two main priorities [3].


 Further reading

 1. The Seven Countries Study: 2,289 deaths in 15 years.

2. Evaluation of Sensory and in Vitro Cardio Protective Properties of Sardine (Sardina pilchardus): The Effect of Grilling and Brining

3. Food Security and Cardioprotection: The Polar Lipid Link