Green Tea, Soy Protein and Curd Bacteria May Help Combat High Cholesterol

According to the Telegraph, a cocktail of green tea, soy protein and bacteria extracted from curd may help combat high cholesterol and blood pressure, laboratory studies by scientists at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela, have suggested.

The researchers say their studies have shown that the curd bacteria can reduce cholesterol levels in petri dishes and suppress a key enzyme that drives high blood pressure, but caution that their findings need to be validated through animal studies.

“We’re trying to identify the most promising among probiotics, or health-friendly bacteria,” said Rasu Jayabalan, a food biologist at the NIT department of life sciences, who led the study. “Our long-term goal is to design natural products based on probiotics that could substitute for statins.”

Probiotics are naturally occurring microorganisms such as certain gut bacteria, including Lactobaccilus acidophilus, long known to have beneficial effects on the digestive system. But medical researchers across the world have also been exploring probiotics’ role in fortifying the immune system, fighting allergy and correcting the adverse effects of antibiotics.

A probiotic called Lactobaccilus reuteri has already been shown to help lower cholesterol. Researchers at McGill University in Canada who have worked on this probiotic for the past 12 years showed last year that a yoghurt formulation loaded with this bacteria is safe and effective in lowering cholesterol.

Jayabalan and his colleagues decided to create a single “nutrition-packed functional food” that would combine the benefits from probiotics from curd, anti-oxidants from green tea and protein subunits called peptides from soy. Their findings have been published in the journal Food Chemistry.

They created the cocktail by injecting curd bacteria into a mixture of standard bovine milk and soy extract and tested its capacity to reduce cholesterol and inhibit the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Patients with high blood pressure are often prescribed ACE inhibitors as standard therapy.

Their studies have suggested that a curd bacteria called Lactobacillus heliveticus had the strongest cholesterol-lowering and ACE-inhibiting capacity, among the microbes they tested. They also identified another probiotic called Enterococcus faecium with similar activity.

The NIT researchers have also shown that the soy-fortified green tea curd can serve as “an effective carrier of probiotics in sufficient amounts” if consumed within 15 days of production and stored at 4 degrees Celsius.

But on the 21st day, their studies show, there was a six-fold drop in the probiotic content of the product. “We’re hoping such natural products, along with a healthy balanced diet, will eliminate or at least reduce the need for medical therapy,” Jayabalan said.

Research scholars Sahoo Moumita, Bhaskar Das and Archana Sundaray, physician Sanghamitra Satapati, and tea industry specialists P. Thangraj and S. Marimuthu worked on the project with Jayabalan.