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Natural Supplement Shows Cholesterol-Lowering Potential

High cholesterol-especially high LDL ("bad") cholesterol-can lead to a variety of diseases, the most prevalent of which is cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cholesterol is traditionally treated with statins, but daily supplementation with a plant extract blend has been shown to noticeably reduce cholesterol levels.

Researchers from the Laboratoire Lescuyer and Aix Marseille Universite in France conducted the study. It was published in the European Journal of Nutrition on April 24, 2012.

Participants in the study included 39 adults between the ages of 21 and 55. All of them had mild hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). They were assigned to consume daily either a placebo or a supplement containing 500 mg of red yeast rice, 11.1 mg of a sugar-cane derived policosanol and 600 mg of artichoke leaf extracts.

After 16 weeks, the researchers noted a 19% reduction in LDL cholesterol, a 14% reduction in total cholesterol, and a 12% decrease in trigylicerides in the plant group. Smaller but notable reductions were also seen at the 4 week, 8 week, and 12 week marks. By contrast, the placebo group saw an increase in triglycerides and no reduction in cholesterol.

The researchers have yet to determine the exact elements that produced these effects, but they note that red yeast rice contains monacolin K, which inhibits a coenzyme that helps produce cholesterol.

There are also ways to manage cholesterol through more commonly consumed foods. Fiber in particular has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. Fiber-rich foods include oats, peas, beans, fruits, brown rice and dark leafy vegetables.

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