Functional food, blood lipids and cardiovascular disease. Part 1: probiotics
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For the past 20 years, the focuses of public health strategies for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been aimed at lowering cholesterol levels. However recent findings have highlighted not only cholesterol but also triacylglycerol as a lipid risk factor for CVD. Dietary strategies which are able to reduce these circulating lipid levels, but which are able to offer long-term efficacy comparable with effective drug treatments, are currently being sought. One dietary strategy that has been proposed to benefit the lipid profile involves the supplementation of the diet with probiotics (Part 1), prebiotics and synbiotics (Part 2), which are mechanisms to improve the health of the host by supplementation and/or fortification of certain health promoting gut bacteria. Probiotics in the form of fermented milk products have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties, whereas non-digestible fermentable prebiotics have been shown to reduce triacylglycerol levels in animal studies. However in humans studies, there have been inconsistent findings with respect to changes in lipid levels with both prebiotics and probiotics although on the whole there have been favourable outcomes.