The relatively new area of probiotic research has only recently begun to examine the function of probiotics in cardiovascular health. In the ongoing search for solutions to cholesterol problems, both animal and human studies are being performed to explore the potential of probiotic supplements to affect cholesterol levels.
Respected healthcare providers such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic concur probiotics play a beneficial role in human health and disease.
Early on, an animal study from Argentina revealed a 40% decrease in triglycerides and a 20% decrease of LDL cholesterol after only 7 days of a diet supplemented with the probiotic L. reuteri. The animals (mice) were then tested to see if the probiotic also had preventative capabilities. Being fed a high-fat diet after supplementing with the probiotic L. reuteri resulted in a beneficial increase in the HDL to LDL ratio without "bad" cholesterol elevation.
Later, a human study published in 2012 by Canadian researchers revealed a 22% reduction in C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) levels, a 12% average drop in "bad" cholesterol (LDL) with no change in HDL ("good") cholesterol after eating yogurt that contained L-reuteri (200 mg per day). The probiotic took a 3-pronged approach to lowering cholesterol, according to researchers:
- By forcing the liver to produce more bile acids, thereby diminishing stored amounts of cholesterol.
- By reducing cholesterol where it is produced – in the liver.
- By breaking down and "eating" cholesterol.
Various strains of lactobacillus have been studied for cardiovascular disease benefits. Experiments revealed beneficial results in areas such as decreased inflammation, increased HDL, lowered triglycerides, and reduced blood sugar and insulin resistance. Research is also being done based on an animal study indicating probiotic ability to lower blood glucose.
If taken for an extended period of time, some probiotic combinations have proven beneficial in lowering blood pressure - especially above 130/85.