Looking for a natural cholesterol buster?
There are plenty of other cholesterol busters ready to take its place, including certain promising plant compounds that have been understudied.
Cholesterol lowering compounds called saponins are naturally found in several plants, but are especially rich in alfalfa, soybeans, chickpeas, and the yucca plant. Saponins are also found in herbs such as garlic, fenugreek, ginseng, red clover, and guarana.
Unlike red yeast rice, which interferes with the liver’s ability to manufacture cholesterol, saponins interfere with cholesterol absorption, as do phytosterols and the prescription drug cholestyramine. Your body can’t absorb saponins, so when they latch onto cholesterol as they pass it in the intestinal tract, they take the artery-clogging fat with them when they exit.
Interest in saponins has been reborn. Thirty years ago, a few dilettantes studied saponins and found that in animals at least, they do lower cholesterol.
Despite the fact that dozens of studies have been done clearly showing that sponins can safely and effectively lower cholesterol in animals, little work has been done with people. Virtually none of the human studies have been published in scientific journals. Saponin manufacturers are too small to afford them, and drug companies already have their synthetic cholesterol-lowering drugs on the market.
Still, unpublished European studies show significant reductions in all the cholesterol-clogging fats and increases in the good HDLs. Another study found that monkeys taking alfalfa saponins experienced a reversal of the artery-clogging process and a healthy 50% drop in blood cholesterol levels.
Saponins in general are considered to be safe. In fact, they have FDA approval for use in foods. Though alfalfa and alfalfa sprouts contain a toxic compound called canvinine, it is removed during processing, and saponin supplements from alfalfa appear to be completely safe. Saponin-containing yucca extracts are also considered to be completely safe.
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