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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Nov;54(11):856-60.

The effect of a probiotic milk product on plasma cholesterol: a meta-analysis of short-term intervention studies.

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Research Department of Human Nutrition, Centre for Food Research, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark.



Certain fermented dairy milk products may have beneficial effects on plasma cholesterol levels. However, a number of studies have produced conflicting results as to whether dietary supplementation by a probiotic dairy product containing the bacteria culture Causido(R) reduces plasma cholesterol.


To conduct a meta-analysis of intervention studies to evaluate the effect of the Causido(R) culture on plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol. THE PROBIOTIC MILK PRODUCT: The yoghurt product Gaio(R) is fermented with Causido(R), composed of one strain of Enterococcus faecium (human species) with the proposed cholesterol-lowering effect, and two strains of Streptococcus thermophilus. STUDY INCLUSION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Six studies were identified from a literature search and from the yoghurt producer. All studies met the inclusion criteria. Summary data for plasma concentrations of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol were extracted from the original publications or by personal request to the authors. Data from 4-8 weeks of treatment duration was used.


We performed a traditional meta-analysis where mean differences between intervention and control of the pre-post changes in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol were calculated, as well as 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


In the six studies included in the meta-analysis, the Gaio(R) interventions produced changes in total cholesterol above those of the control groups ranging from -0.02 to -1.02 mmol/l and in LDL-cholesterol ranging from -0.02 to -1.15 mmol/l. After inclusion of an open-label study, the meta-analysis of the double-blind studies showed that Gaio(R) as compared to the control group changed total cholesterol by -0.22 mmol/l (95% CI: -0.35 to -0.08, P<0.01) and LDL-cholesterol by -0.20 mmol/l (95% CI: -0.33 to -0.06, P<0.005). The outcome was essentially the same if all studies were included.


The present meta-analysis of controlled short-term intervention studies shows that the fermented yoghurt product produced a 4% decrease in total cholesterol and a 5% decrease in LDL-cholesterol when the open-label study is excluded. To demonstrate sustained effects on blood lipids, long-term studies are required.


MD Foods A/S, Denmark.

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