Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels: How can Probiotics Help?

First Posted: Feb 07, 2014 02:54 PM EST

A happy heart may have a lot to do with your gut health, according to a recent analysis based on the examination of 26 clinical studies and two meta-analyses that dissect the potential of probiotics in reducing LDL-cholesterol. The study notes that the probiotics examined, including L. reuteri NCIMB 30242, were found to be the best method for therapeutic lifestyle changes regarding certain dietary requirements, courtesy of a press release.

  • Significantly reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol, with robustness similar to that of existing TLC dietary options,
  • Improving other coronary heart disease risk factors, such as inflammatory biomarkers, and
  • Having "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) status.

As statistics show that heart health is the leading cause of death worldwide, close to 91 percent of adults say they care about maintaining their cholesterol levels for cardiovascular issues, but show otherwise. For instance, less than half (37 percent) actually do so by getting cholesterol tests.

"People know probiotics for digestive health. They don't associate them with heart health," said Doug DiRienzo, PhD and lead author of the review, via the release. "It's time to recognize their potential role as a simple and natural tool in cholesterol management."

For the study, researchers conducted a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, multicenter trail that showed how CardiovivaTM 

healthy bacteria. They found that it lowered total and LDL-cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic adults. One of the reviews that involved 127 adults with high cholesterol even showed that those taking a supplement of L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day were able to lower their LDL levels by 11.6 percent than those who took the placebo for nine weeks. 

"It is exciting to think that certain probiotics, such as CardiovivaTM, may have an impact on heart health through gut health," said Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at the Pennsylvania State University and Fellow of the American Heart Association. "I would encourage consumers who are managing their heart health through diet and exercise to ask their health professionals about probiotics that have been proven effective in lowering cholesterol in clinical trials."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the January issue of Nutrition Reviews

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