Probiotics modestly reduce cholesterol levels in healthy subjects and may have stronger effects in people with hyperlipidaemia.
A meta-analysis of six studies of a probiotic dairy product containing Enterococcus faecium found that the fermented yoghurt product produced a 4% decrease in total cholesterol and a 5% decrease in LDL-cholesterol (Agerholm-Larsen et al 2000).
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In another study, 32 subjects with serum total cholesterol ranging from 5.7 to 7.25 mg/dL were randomly assigned to two treatments: (1) Intake of a low-fat drinking yoghurt prepared with two ordinary yoghurt starters (Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus: placebo group); and (2) intake of a low-fat drinking yoghurt prepared with the two yoghurt starters plus Bifidobacterium longum strain BL1 (probiotic group). After intake for 4 weeks at 3 ■ 100 mL/day, reduction of serum total cholesterol was observed in approximately half of the probiotic group subjects; a particularly significant decrease in serum total cholesterol was found among subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia (serum total cholesterol > 6.2 mg/dL). The serum lipid concentrations in the placebo group subjects were almost stable during the experimental periods (Xiao et al 2003).
A crossover study of 29 healthy women, aged 19-56 years, found that the long-term daily consumption of 300 g of two different types of yoghurt over a period of 21 weeks increased the serum concentration of HDL-cholesterol and led to the desired improvement of the LDL:HDL-cholesterol ratio. The normal yoghurt contained 3.5% fat and starter cultures of 5. thermophilus and L. lactis, whereas the probiotic yoghurt was enriched with L. acidophilus 145, B. longum 913 and 1% oligofructose. The mean serum concentration of total cholesterol and the LDL-cholesterol was not influenced by the normal yoghurt (P > 0.05). However, both the normal and the probiotic yoghurt increased the HDL concentration significantly, by 0.3 mmol/L (P= 0.002) and decreased the LDLHDL ratio from 3.24 to 2.48 (P= 0.001) (Kiessling et al 2002).
A recent controlled, randomised double-blind study of 36 heavy smokers found that 400 miyday of a rose hip drink containing L. plantarum 299v (5 ■ 107 colony-forming units/mL) led to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors. Significant decreases in SBP, leptin, and fibrinogen (P < 0.001) were recorded in the experimental group. No such changes were observed in the control group. Decreases in F(2)-isoprostanes (markers of oxidative stress) (37%) and IL-6 (42%) were also noted in the experimental group in comparison with baseline. Monocytes isolated from subjects treated with L plantarum showed significantly reduced adhesion (P < 0.001) to endothelial cells (Naruszewicz et al 2002).
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