(Natural News) Looking for a natural supplement to boost your heart health and blood sugar control? A team of researchers from the universities of Bologna, L’Aquila, and Palermo in Italy suggested that you can improve both your heart health and blood sugar levels with this combination: berberine and silymarin. In their review, which was published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, they found that supplementing with these two phytochemicals may improve blood lipid levels and fasting blood sugar levels.
Berberine is found in medicinal plants such as goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), while silymarin is found in milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Berberine alone was previously found to have a lipid-lowering effect, according to a meta-analysis of 27 clinical studies with more than 2,000 participants. In the current meta-analysis, the researchers found that combining silymarin and berberine may enhance their positive effect on lipid and glucose metabolism in humans. (Related: Berberine is an alkaloid that plays an essential role in metabolic and cardiovascular health.)
The Italy-based research team carried out a systematic review of literature and meta-analysis to evaluate the lipid- and glucose-lowering effects of the berberine and silymarin combination. To do so, they gathered available randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials (RCTs).
The research team included five eligible RCTs for their study. These RCTs provided data from 497 individuals with study duration ranging from three to 12 months. These studies examined 500 or 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day of berberine and 105 or 210 mg per day of silymarin.
Based on the evidence they gathered, the combination of berberine and silymarin was linked to a 25 mg per deciliter (dL) depletion in total cholesterol, 28 mg/dL decline in triglycerides, and 29 mg/dL decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. At the same time, the combination was associated with a 6 mg/dL increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. In addition, the researchers saw a significant decline in blood sugar levels, with average reductions of 7.5 mg/dL.
The research team concluded that consuming berberine and silymarin together may help improve lipid and blood sugar levels, which could potentially be used to improve cardiometabolic health.
They added that their findings could give way for the administration of lower doses of berberine, which could reduce the risk of gastrointestinal issues that are commonly linked to higher doses of the compound.
Improving cardiometabolic health with food
In addition to taking berberine and silymarin together, you can also improve your cardiometabolic health by eating certain foods. A study published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition suggested that diets rich in plant-based foods help reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease.
The study, conducted by a team of U.S. researchers, revealed that eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains has a protective effect against cardiometabolic diseases, which are metabolic dysfunctions characterized by reduced glucose tolerance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, central adiposity and insulin resistance.
Epidemiological studies also suggested that consuming animal protein – such as unprocessed lean meats – in small amounts, together with plant-based protein, may also lower a person’s risk for cardiometabolic problems.
The research team focused on determining the benefits of both plant-based and animal-based foods on healthy dietary patterns. They aimed to provide a proper dietary recommendation to those who wish to eat healthier.
They concluded that instead of debating whether diets should be solely plant-based or include animal-based foods, the focus should be consuming a variety foods in recommended amounts to prevent cardiometabolic diseases.