Mineral/herb combo cuts cholesterol

At the Department of Physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center, researchers conducted a pilot study on the effects of chromium and grape seed extract on subjects with elevated cholesterol. High cholesterol is quite prevalent in North America, and is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. There are many drugs to help lower blood cholesterol, but most are associated with unfavourable side effects. Researchers have been trying to identify more natural means of lowering cholesterol.

In this randomized, double-blind study, researchers divided 40 subjects with high cholesterol into four groups of 10 people. They received either a placebo; 100 mg grape seed extract; 200 mcg chromium; or a combination of 200 mcg chromium and 100 mg grape seed extract, all for a period of two months. At the end of the trial, researchers found the following decreases in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol among the four groups: placebo group–3%; grape seed group–1%; chromium group–14.0%; and the chromium/grape seed combination group was 20% lower! Decreases in total cholesterol levels were also observed. The researchers considered the difference between the placebo and the combination groups quite significant and concluded that the combination of chromium and grape seed extract could decrease total cholesterol and LDL levels. Chromium is also known to help regulate blood sugar. While the substances studied showed no effect on homocysteine or triglyceride levels, the combination of chromium and grape seed extract could decrease substances that oxidize or damage LDL cholesterol—a risk factor for heart disease.

Sources: J Med 2000;31(5-6):227-46; Leslie Beck’s Nutrition Encyclopedia by L Beck, Prentice Hall:2001