Probiotics May Improve Cholesterol, Small Study Suggests

New research shows that probiotics -- live microorganisms in foods like yogurt that are known to be good for digestive health -- could also do the heart some good.

Taking two doses a day of a kind of probiotic seemed to decrease levels of total and "bad" cholesterol in people with high cholesterol, according to the study.

The probiotic used in the study was a specially formulated form of Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, which has been shown in past research to have positive effects on cholesterol.

The study included 127 adults who had high cholesterol. Half were given two doses a day of the probiotic, while the other half were given a placebo for nine weeks.

By the end of the study period, people who took the probiotics had 11.6 percent lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol than those who took the placebo, as well as 9.1 percent lower levels of total cholesterol. However, the probiotics group experienced no decreases in "good" HDL cholesterol levels.

It's important to note that the study was funded by the maker of the probiotic, Micropharma. Bloomberg News noted that Micropharma does not yet have any probiotics on the market, but will soon be releasing the probiotic supplement used in the study next year.

And because the study was only presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012, and not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, the findings should be regarded as preliminary.

But still, this is not the first time probiotics have been shown to have positive effects on health. For some other ways live active bacteria could benefit the body, click through the slideshow:

Digestive Health

What Probiotics Can Do

Popular in the Community