Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are globally the major causes of morbidity and mortality. Evidence shows that smaller and denser low-dense lipoprotein (sdLDL) particles are independent atherogenic risk factors for CVD due to their greater susceptibility to oxidation, and permeability in the endothelium of arterial walls. sdLDL levels are an independent risk factor and of more predictive value than total LDL-C for the assessment of coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome. Functional food ingredients have attracted significant attention for the management of dyslipidemia and subsequently increase cardio-metabolic health. However, to date there is no study that has investigated the effect of these bioactive natural compounds on sdLDL levels. Therefore, the aim of the present review is to summarize the evidence accrued on the effect of special dietary ingredients such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, nutraceuticals and herbal medicines on the levels of sdLDL, LDL particle number, and LDL particle size. Based on the results of the existing clinical trials this review suggests that natural products such as medicinal plants, nutraceuticals and omega-3 fatty acids can be used as adjunct or complementary therapeutic agents to reduce sdLDL levels, LDL particle numbers or increase LDL particle size and subsequently may prevent and treat CVD, with the advantage that theses natural agents are generally safe, accessible, and inexpensive.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Lipoprotein; Medicinal plant; Nutrition; Phytochemical.