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BCAAs improve cholesterol balance, says animal study

BCAAs improve cholesterol balance, says animal study
You already know that supplementation with BCAAs inhibits muscle breakdown during workouts and stimulates fat burning. You may also know that animal studies have shown that BCAA supplementation extends life expectancy. What you might not know is that BCAA supplementation probably boosts the concentration of 'good' cholesterol, HDL.

The animal study upon which we base this bold statement was published recently in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Molecular researchers at the University of Pavia in Italy performed the study. The same researchers published the results of an experiment in 2010 in which they showed that a mixture of BCAAs and other amino acids extends life expectancy. In this study the researchers used the same mixture, the composition of which is shown below.

BCAAs improve cholesterol balance, says animal study

The researchers gave the BCAA mixture in oral form to adult male mice for four weeks. The daily dose was 100 mg/kg bodyweight. The mice were not made to do any exercise. A control group received no BCAAs.

BCAAs improve cholesterol balance, says animal study
At the end of the four weeks the researchers analysed the mice's blood, and discovered that supplementation had altered the activity of some genes. The biggest change was that the blood of the BCAA mice contained more of the protein apolipoprotein A-1 [spatial structure shown here]. Apolipoprotein A-1 is the most important protein component of HDL, 'good' cholesterol.

BCAAs improve cholesterol balance, says animal study

And that's positive of course. Cardiologists have been searching for years for new forms of treatment that boost the production of apolipoprotein A-1, and with it the concentration of HDL. Up till now they've not had much success.

The researchers don't know for sure whether humans react to BCAAs in the same way as their lab mice did, but they suspect they would. "Notwithstanding these limitations, results from our study opens up a new avenue of research, aimed to identify the individual contributions of these molecular markers to the effects of BCAA enriched mixtures supplementations in mammals", they conclude.

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Apr 3;10(1):19.

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