Garlic fermented with the fungus Monascus pilosus reduced blood levels of LDL cholesterol by about 20% after 12 weeks of supplementation, according to findings published in Clinical Nutrition.
Japanese researchers from Hiroshima University and Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co. also report that the ration of LDL to HDL cholesterol levels decreased by about 0.5% following supplementation with the fermented garlic product, compared with a 0.1% decrease in the placebo group.
“The present randomized clinical trial demonstrates that [garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus] is useful as a dietary supplement without apparent ill-consequences to reduce serum lipids for mildly hyperlipidemic people,” wrote the researchers.
“Intake of [garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus] may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The study was funded by Wakunaga Pharmaceutical, and the Hiroshima-based company provided the product tested.
The researchers note that the active compound in the fermented garlic is monacolin K, a natural form of lovastatin.
The fermented garlic reported provides a 2 mg of “naturally occurring monacolin K”, which is a “considerably lower dose than the typical dose of lovastatin”, where starting doses are in the range of about 20 mg per day.
Monascus pilosus is a fungus used in the production of red yeast rice.
Fifty-five people with elevated triglyceride levels were recruited to participate in the new study and randomly assigned to either the fermented garlic product (900 mg per day with a daily dose 2 mg of monacolin K) or placebo for 12 weeks.
Results of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial indicated that fermented garlic produced maximum reductions in triglyceride and LDL cholesterol of 14.8% and 14.2%, respectively.
The triglyceride levels decreased until week eight and then returned to baseline levels after 12 weeks.
“The mean triglyceride concentrations during the intake declined by 9.3% from baseline in the MGFE group but increased by 4.8% in the placebo group,” wrote the researchers.
“The LDL/HDL ratio, which is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease, decreased by 20% at week eight, indicating that the intake of 2 mg monacolin K/d may be sufficiently effective as a dietary supplement to prevent cardiovascular disease.”
No changes in the body fat and waist circumference were observed.
“The intake of [garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus] decreased triglyceride and cholesterol in serum with no appreciable adverse effects in normal to mildly hyperlipidemic individuals, suggesting that it may be effective to improve and prevent the metabolic syndrome,” concluded the researchers.
Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.10.008
“Reduction of serum lipids by the intake of the extract of garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial”
Authors: F. Higashikawa, M. Noda, T. Awaya, M. Ushijima, M. Sugiyama