Green tea may lower bad cholesterol
(CBS) Good news, green tea aficionados. A new study shows that the famously healthful brew may shave points off your "bad" cholesterol level.
Green tea and capsules containing green tea compounds were tested. The tea was found to lower total and "bad" cholesterol levels by 5 to 6 points. The beverage was found to be consistently more effective than capsules - although the overall benefits for both were small.
Green tea contains antioxidant compounds called catechins, which many studies have tested for their effect on cholesterol. But these studies have been small and had conflicting results. For the new study - published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association - researchers at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., pooled the results of these clinical trials, involving a total of 1,415 adults. The trials - lasting anywhere between three weeks and six months - had participants consume either green tea beverages, capsules, or placebos daily. Benefits were found among people who had high cholesterol levels at the beginning of the study.
Is green tea the new remedy for high cholesterol? Not quite. "If someone is already taking medication for their cholesterol, they should stick with it and not try to trade it for green tea, either capsules or the beverage," study author Dr. Olivia Phung told Reuters Health.
The study found no significant effect on "good" HDL cholesterol.
The use of herbal supplements like green tea is one strategy to lower cholesterol, along with medication and lifestyle changes, according to the study.
Major risk factors for high levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol include smoking, high blood pressure, low "good" HDL cholesterol, family history, and age. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase risk for heart disease.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on cholesterol.
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