Prunes May Help Lower Cholesterol

A study published in Pharmaceutical Biology shows that prunes may help regulate intestinal microflora and thereby effectively lower total cholesterol levels. Prunus domestica Linn (Rosaceae) has been considered a functional food, owing to its various pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and anticancer. In this placebo-controlled, randomized study, the researchers wanted to check the beneficial activity of prune essence concentrates (PEC) in corroboration with intestinal function and lipid profile in subjects with mildly high cholesterol.

Sixty healthy subjects with mildly high cholesterol were randomly chosen and segregated into three groups as placebo (consume 50 mL of simulated prune drink), PEC I (consume 50 mL of PEC/day), and PEC II (consume 100 mL of PEC/day) for four weeks with two weeks of follow-up without PEC consumption.

The researchers found that subjects who consumed PEC (I and II) experienced a remarkable improvement in the population of beneficial bacteria’s community, especially Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus spp., and total anaerobic bacterial count on comparison with the baseline. During the follow-up (6th week), C. perfringens and E. coli levels were slightly increased, whereas Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus spp., and the total anaerobic bacterial count was markedly reduced due to stoppage of PEC consumption.

In addition, intake of PEC (I and II) remarkably lowered the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and mildly increased the levels of HDL cholesterol as compared with baseline. However, on the 4th week of intervention, PEC (I and II) group presented lesser levels of both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in comparison with the placebo group.

The researchers concluded that PEC intake could positively alter the human intestinal flora and thereby enhance various physiological functions and favor various health benefits. In future studies, the researchers plan to isolate the active components of PEC and test them for their ability to lower choelsterol.

Source: Institute of Food Technologists