A recent study in Germany has indicated the potential of carob fibre to help to reduce LDL cholesterol in humans. Scientists at the University of Potsdam, led by Professor Hans-Joachim Zunft, investigated the affect of carob fibre on volunteers with increased cholesterol levels.
They consumed carob fibre on a regular basis in addition to their normal diet. The study involved 47 adult volunteers (31 females, 16 males) with a total serum cholesterol level ranging between 6.0 and 7.8 mmol/l. The volunteers were instructed to stay on their normal diet during the eight-week study period. They consumed three times daily 5g carob fibre in the form of foods such as breakfast cereals, fruit bars and flavoured milk drinks.
The results showed a maximum reduction in total and LDL cholesterol levels after six weeks. Total cholesterol was reduced by 7.8 per cent and LDL cholesterol reduction by 12.1 per cent. The scientists report that LDL/HDL ratio decreased significantly between week zero and week four and then remained relatively constant. HDL cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose levels did not change significantly and remained within the normal limits.
"These results are encouraging, since cholesterol lowering activity of this nature is predominantly linked with soluble rather than insoluble dietary fibre," said Professor Zunft. "The special composition of carob fibre, however, could provide the key to this special effect and pave the way for its inclusion in such food products as breakfast cereals and bakery goods."
Carob fibre is derived from the pulp of the carob fruit, which comes from Ceratonia siliqua, a member of the legume family, and is native to the Mediterranean region. The fruit of the tree, the carob bean or St John's bread as it is also known, has been used by humans for decades as a source of nutrition.
Specialty ingredients company Nutrinova funded the study.
"We welcome these positive results from the first human clinical trial on carob fibre. Nutrinova is continuing research of Caromax and will fund a second clinical study within this year," said Dr Bernd Haber, project manager innovation and responsible for clinical trials at Nutrinova.
"Nutrinova has been interested in the potential health benefits of carob fibre for some years. We are seeking to provide food manufacturers with innovative ingredients that can deliver nutritionally important benefits to the consumer."