For your cholesterol - Scientific Research
Clinical research on Probiotics and Cholesterol
'For your cholesterol' strains studied in patients with high cholesterol – May 2013 The probiotic strains found in 'For your cholesterol', (also known as 'AB-Life' strains, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7528, Lactobacillus plantarumCECT 7529) are the first probiotic strains available in the UK to have been shown in a clinical trial to help with cholesterol. In worldwide research, although plenty of probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for gut health, hardly any have shown such capability as 'For your cholesterol' strains in the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels.
A gold-standard clinical trial – randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled, was conducted on 60 participants with high cholesterol. 30 of them received 1 capsule daily of ‘For your cholesterol’ live cultures and 30 received placebo. After 3 months those in the live cultures group saw an average decrease in their total cholesterol of 0.9mmol/L. This 14% drop was statistically significant compared to the placebo group who only saw an insignificant decrease of 0.2mmol/L. The change in total cholesterol was mostly due to LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol decreasing whereas HDL ‘good’ cholesterol increased slightly.
Note: Measurements after 6 weeks hinted at a change in cholesterol, but results were not significant until after 3 months. Therefore the recommended time to take ‘For your cholesterol’ initially is 3 months (For further reading see FAQ For how long should I take ‘For your cholesterol’?).
The statisticians were able to separate the results from those participants who had highest cholesterol initially (between 6.5 and 7.8 mmol/L), from those who only had medium-high cholesterol initially (between 5.2 and 6.4 mmol/L). Interestingly, those who started off with highest cholesterol saw a greater decrease than those who didn’t start off so high. For those in the high group their cholesterol dropped by an impressive 1.2 mmol/L (17%), whereas those in the medium-high group saw a less significant drop of 0.5 mmol/L (9%).
Note: Since this was a controlled trial the diet of both groups did not differ throughout the trial. Importantly no side effects were reported during the trial.
Full trial: Fuentes MC et al. (2013) Cholesterol lowering efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, 7528 and 7529 in hypercholesterolaemic adults. British Journal of Nutrition; pp 1 - 7.
In-vitro research on Probiotics and Cholesterol
An in-vitro trial looked at the ability of the three probiotic strains Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7528, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7529, to reduce cholesterol levels - May 2014
Clinical trials on Alpha-linolenic acid and Cholesterol
Alpha-linolenic acid contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels – EFSA 2009 - In the past few years the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has compiled a list of certain foods and food supplements, only those with sufficient evidence, and given each one of them an exact health claim. EFSA is known to have notoriously high standards so the fact that ALA has been granted a claim is testimony to the vast number of positive clinical research documenting its efficacy at maintaining normal blood cholesterol levels. The full health claim and a summary of the trials that have been done on alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and cholesterol over the years can be seen here.
Alpha-linolenic acid taken in the diet reduces cholesterol levels and inflammation – 2004 - In this clinical trial 23 participants with slightly high cholesterol (over 5mmol/L) were split into three groups. For 6 weeks at a time they were put on either:
- An average American diet
- A diet high in ALA - this was provided by walnut and flaxseed oils.
- A diet high in LA (omega 6)
After 6 weeks on one diet they had a break of 3 weeks, and then moved onto the next diet, until they had completed all 3 diets (this is known as a cross-over study). Blood measurements were taken after each diet. The results showed 6 weeks of daily ALA gave an improved ratio of ‘good’ HDL to ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and decreased inflammation compared to measurements taken after the average American diet.
Full trial: Zhao et al. (2004) Dietary Linolenic Acid Reduces Inflammatory and Lipid Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Hypercholesterolemic Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition; 134: 2991–2997.
Alpha-linolenic acid from Camelina oil reduces LDL - 2002 - 68 participants with moderately high cholesterol were split into 3 groups to consume 30g daily for 6 weeks of:
- Camelina oil (high in ALA omega 3)
- Rapeseed oil (high in omega 6)
- Or, olive oil (high in omega 9)
The camelina oil (alpha-linolenic acid) was most effective at reducing LDL cholesterol.
Full trial: Karvonen et al. (2002) Effect of alpha-linolenic acid-rich Camelina sativa oil on serum fatty acid composition and serum lipids in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Metabolism, Vol 51, No 10 (October); pp 1253-1260.
Comparing alpha-linolenic acid to EPA & DHA from fish oil – 2006 - This trial compared the effects of omega 3 from vegetarian source i.e. alpha-linolenic acid to that of fish oil i.e. EPA and DHA. The results show that ALA had a much more positive effect on cholesterol levels compared to EPA & DHA.
Full trial: Goyens PL, Mensink RP. (2006) Effects of alpha-linolenic acid versus those of EPA/DHA on cardiovascular risk markers in healthy elderly subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 60: 978–984.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study - 2003 - This Family Heart Health Study shows that ALA irrespective of fish consumption (EPA & DHA) reduces plaque build-up in the arteries. 1575 patients were invited to fill in a questionnaire detailing their intake of ALA. Each patient also had an ultrasound looking at the level of plaque build-up in the main artery flowing to the brain. Those who consumed higher amounts of ALA in the diet had less plaque deposits compared with those who consumed low levels of ALA. The amount of fish consumed did not make a difference on the plaque build-up.
Another study by the same group with similar design and measurements found that 2004 participants had reduced level of plaque build-up with increased intakes of ALA, again regardless of fish consumption.
Djoussé L et al. (2003) Dietary linolenic acid and carotid atherosclerosis: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 77: 819–25.
Djoussé L et al. (2005) Dietary linolenic acid is inversely associated with calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study. American Heart Association; 111: 2921-2926.
To read more about OptiBac Probiotics 'For your cholesterol' click here.