Herbalists and folk practitioners have used plant remedies for centuries, but only recently have scientists begun to study the powers of common herbs and spices. Raised cholesterol is a huge public health problem as it increases the risks of heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organisation estimates around 2.6 million deaths worldwide are related to high cholesterol. Could a popular spice help to lower your levels naturally?
One review of 13 randomised controlled trials investigated whether there was a link between cinnamon supplementation and blood lipid concentrations.
They each took one to six grams of cinnamon powder daily, up to four months.
The authors of the review found that cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced blood triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.
The study concluded that cinnamon supplementation was found to be significantly associated with an elevation in HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good cholesterol.”
In another study published in the National Library of Health, Indian spices such as cinnamon for a healthy heart was further investigated.
“Studies have shown the antioxidant and antimicrobial potential, the antidiarrheal activity of Cinnamon is also well documented,” began the study.
It added: “The ‘Indian Materia Medica’ and the ‘Indian Medicinal Plants – A Compendium of 500 species’ classifies cinnamon as an herbal drug which has cardiovascular effects.”
The study found circulatory stimulant effects of cinnamon reported in several books on medicinal plants.
It was also found that dietary cinnamon increases biliary secretion of cholesterol and phospholipids without affecting the bile content.
“Studies on rats with cinnamon use on cholesterol levels found a significant anti-hypercholesterolemic action and reduced serum triglyceride level at a single dose of 250 mg/kg body weight.
“Suppression of total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and low-density lipoprotein levels were also observed in another investigation.
“The same group in their extension study with 80 percent methanolic extract and its chloroform fraction of different species of Cinnamomum observed that the extracts suppressed the elevated serum total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in corn oil-induced hyperlipidaemic rats.”
Health experts advise to stay away from foods that have partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
These man-made oils are sources of trans fatty acids known to raise LDL cholesterol.
They lower heart-protecting HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the inflammatory response in the body.
You can find trans fats listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of packaged foods.
Minimise how much food with trans fatty acids you eat.