What Is Galectin-3 and Should I Check Mine?

Galectin-3 is a recently discussed laboratory marker in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and becoming more commonly used among practicing physicians to determine heart health. It is a test approved by the Food and Drug Administration for testing prognosis in patients with heart failure.

What is this advanced test measuring? It is actually a protein that is released from cells that help with our body’s defense mechanism and then is operated by different carbohydrate derivatives, almost like a switch to turn it off and on. The increased concentration of galectin-3 can cause some toughening in the heart muscle, showing strain on how hard it has to work to pump the blood. Several medical conditions can contribute to an elevated galectin-3 level such as hypertension, arrhythmias, diabetes, and even increased age.

The risk of heart failure has been proven to decrease with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables by approximately a third. Fruits and vegetables provide a wide array of nutrients and compounds that contribute to a healthful, balanced diet, yet one attribute in particular pertains to galectin-3. Fruits and vegetables provide soluble fiber, a type of fiber that helps to cling to the LDL cholesterol, or the kind of cholesterol that potentially forms plaque in the arteries, and carry it out of the body. In addition, pectin, a natural source of soluble fiber, helps to inhibit galectin-3 specifically. Pectin is highest in some of our citrus fruits.

Citrus pectin is isolated in a supplement form as modified-citrus pectin, or MCP, as well. As always, it is best to speak with your physician prior to starting any supplementation product to see how it will affect your total health picture. Before running to local supplement shop, be sure to focus on those colorful therapies in your grocery aisle- fruits and vegetables!

By Anna Dean, MS, RD, LD


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