(NaturalNews) Pick your favorite flavor (strawberry, creamsicle, key lime pie?) and grab a container: in addition to being delicious, your morning yogurt might be heart-healthy. The American Heart Association has presented findings that doses of probiotics taken twice daily can lower cholesterol.
Probiotics are living microorganisms known to be good for digestive health. Common sources of them are in foods like yogurt or dietary supplements. Some people ingest probiotics daily, and others take them prior to international trips (many believe probiotics assist in the body acclimating to foreign food and drink).
The study's researchers used a probiotic that was a specially formulated form of Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242. This particular type has proven to have positive effects on cholesterol in previous research.
There were 127 adult participants, all of whom had high cholesterol. Approximately half of them were given L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 doses two times a day, and the other half took placebo capsules. After nine weeks, those in the probiotic group had LDL (bad cholesterol) levels at 11.6 percent lower than those in the placebo group. Additionally, cholesterol esters - molecules of cholesterol attached to fatty acids - were reduced by 6.3 percent and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 percent in the probiotic group.
On an overall basis, those in the first group had a total cholesterol reduction of 9.1 percent. Levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and blood triglycerides (a dangerous form of fat in the blood) remained unchanged.
The dosage amount of probiotics given to the first group was just 200 milligrams per day, which is a far lower amount than those for soluble fiber and various other products used to reduce cholesterol. Scientists have also proposed that Lactobacillus bacteria could impact cholesterol in a number of ways, one of which is breaking apart molecules called bile salts. The L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 given to the participants was formulated to maximize its effect on cholesterol and bile salts. The study results suggest that the probiotic broke apart bile salts, which led to reduced cholesterol absorption in the gut.
Dr. Jones, the co-founder and chief science officer of Micropharma - the company that formulated the probiotic - noted that the patients appeared to tolerate the L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 well. He also said that the strain has a long history of safe use.
The researchers have said that, due to the small amount of participants in the study, they don't know if the impact of the probiotic is different between men and women or among various ethnic groups.