MONDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- People who took a probiotic supplement containing a beneficial bacteria saw their cholesterol levels improve, and a freeze-dried concoction made from a genetically engineered tomato had a similar effect on mice, two new studies show.
The research, to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Los Angeles, is the latest to use nonpharmaceuticals or specially designed foods to rein in high cholesterol -- a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
In one study involving 127 people with high cholesterol, those who took a twice-daily supplement of a special strain of the Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium for nine weeks experienced an average 11.6 percent drop in LDL "bad" cholesterol and a 9.1 percent drop in total cholesterol, compared to those taking a placebo.
Other strains of L. reuteri are found naturally in breads and yogurts, but researchers at the Canadian probiotics company Micropharma, which funded the study, say they've formulated a strain that seems to help block the absorption of cholesterol.
The strain, called L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 and marketed as Cardioviva, is thought to help break up bile salts, which helps lower absorption of cholesterol.
Dr. Mitchell Jones, chief scientific officer at Micropharma, helped develop the product, which he said can also be added to food products such as yogurts. "Cardioviva is a novel, natural approach to one of the most prevalent heart problems of our time, high cholesterol," Jones said. As to safety, he added that, "like other probiotics, if there are gastrointestinal side effects, they are rare and usually minor."
According to Jones, Micropharma plans to launch Cardioviva in supplement form in Canada early in 2013, and "in the U.S. market we are working to launch the supplement a little later on in 2013, maybe
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