Crabapple supplements could help cut cholesterol, China study discovers

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Crabapples may have therapeutic effects in patients with high cholesterol. ©iStock
Crabapples may have therapeutic effects in patients with high cholesterol. ©iStock

Related tags Cholesterol Atherosclerosis Nutrition

Crabapple extract has been show to lower cholesterol in obese mice which were fed a high-fat diet, researchers in China have revealed.

The study points out that statins are the major therapy for hypercholesterolaemia and for the prevention of atherosclerosis.

However, there is some evidence to suggest that they may increase the risk of diabetes, muscle pain, liver damage and cause other side effects.

“Therefore, new therapy is needed for the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia,”​ wrote the researchers from Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing universities.

Crabapple has long been used for the treatment of diarrhoea, indigestion and other digestive diseases in traditional Chinese medicine, and its antioxidant benefits have frequently been studied.

However, the constituents and functions of the fruit remain largely unknown, and there had not been any research on its cholesterol-lowering potential.

“Previous studies have suggested that the consumption of fruits may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, and stroke, and have shown to be beneficial to obesity, bone health and so on,” ​the researchers wrote in the Journal of Functional Foods​.

Therefore, this study sought to evaluate the anti-hyperlipidaemic and anti-hyperglycaemic effects of crabapple extracts from five species on high-fat diet-induced obese mice, as well as the antioxidant properties in vitro.

They observed that three species of crabapple, M. xaojinensis​, Indian Magic and M. prunifolia​ had a triglyceride lowering effect on the obese mice.

High plasma triglyceride levels are considered important risk factors for the development of diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Crucial enzyme

Furthermore, all extracts significantly lowered serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol significantly.

The research team added that all extracts also notably elevated the mRNA expression and protein levels of cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase, the crucial enzyme for cholesterol homeostasis, in the mouse liver.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to show that crabapples can lower lipid profiles,”​ they state.

They also observed that crabapple extracts had strong antioxidant activities, which is in agreement with previous studies.

“In conclusion, we found that crabapple extracts lowered serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and some also improved serum triglyceride, fatty liver and glucose levels in obese mice.

“Our data suggest that, as a dietary supplement, the crabapples may have therapeutic effects in patients with high cholesterol levels and other metabolic disorders,”​ they added.


Source: Journal of Functional Foods

“Crabapple fruit extracts lower hypercholesterolaemia in high-fat diet-induced obese mice”

Authors: Mingxia Li​, et al​.

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