A new study out of Vanderbilt University shows cholesterol-lowering effects from a pill formulated with extracts from green tea. The study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to confirm the cholesterol-lowering properties of tea in humans.
Studies of large populations have suggested drinking tea has health benefits that include lower levels of LDL, or bad, cholesterol. Studies confirming the causal relationship between tea and lower levels of cholesterol have not been conducted.
This study included 240 men and women age 18 and older who were being seen at six urban hospitals in China for mild to moderate cholesterol problems. All were on a low-fat diet. Researchers randomly assigned members of the group to receive either a pill containing tea extracts thought to have cholesterol-lowering properties or a placebo pill. The study lasted for 12 weeks.
At the end of the trial, patients taking the tea pill had about an 11-percent drop in total cholesterol levels and about a 16-percent drop in LDL cholesterol levels. Levels of HDL, or the good cholesterol, rose about 2 percent, as did triglyceride levels. The cholesterol measures did not change in those taking the placebo pill. The tea pill was well tolerated in the participants.
Researchers say these findings indicate a role for tea in lowering cholesterol. They call for more research aimed at confirming these results in more diverse populations.