Meta-analysis backs sea buckthorn for cholesterol & heart health

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Sea buckthorn Nutrition functional beverage beverage

Supplementation with sea buckthorn could significantly reduce heart disease risk by improving blood cholesterol and blood lipid profiles, finds a pooled analysis of previous RCTs.

The meta-analysis, published in Trends in Food Science & Technolog​y, pooled data from over 900 people who took part in 11 independent randomised controlled trials to determine a possible link between sea buckthorn intake and changes to blood lipid profiles. Previous research has suggested that nutrient-packed berry is linked to heart disease risk​, while other studies have touted a potential link to eye health​ and for vaginal dryness​.

Led by Xiao-fei Guo from Zhejiang University in China the new meta-analysis found supplementation with sea buckthorn significantly improves blood lipid profiles in people with hyperlipidaemia – but not in healthy people with no cardiovascular risk factors.

“From perspective of nutritional values, sea buckthorn contains a large quantity of health beneficial chemical compounds, comprising phenolics, organic acids, isorhamnetin, quercetin, kaempferol, sitosterol, soluble vitamins (C, B1​, B2​ and B11​), fat soluble vitamins (A, K and E), carotenoids, and other nutrients,”​ said the team.

“This meta-analysis has provided evidence that dietary intake of sea buckthorn berries/extracts significantly improved total cholesterol, TAG, LDL and HDL-cholesterol among subjects with hyperlipidaemia, but not in healthy subjects,”​ they added – suggesting that further large-scale controlled trials, ideally with longer durations, should now be performed to confirm the protective effect on blood lipid levels.

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Guo and colleagues identified 11 suitable randomised trials investigating the effect of seabuckthorn on blood lipid markers after an initial search turned up more than 3,000 possible studies.

Of the 11 trials that met inclusion criteria, the team noted that five were performed among healthy subjects, three were in subjects with NAFLD, and three were in people with hyperlipidaemia.

Pooled estimates from the studies showed that sea buckthorn consumption significantly decreased total cholesterol, triacylglycerol (TAG), and significantly increased ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol, but not ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol.

“For trials reporting data from healthy subjects, sea buckthorn showed no significant difference on blood lipid profiles,”​ wrote the Chinese team. “On the contrary, the total cholesterol, TAG, LDL, and HDL-cholesterol was showed to be significantly improved in subjects with cardiovascular risks.”

They added that thecardio-protective effects of sea buckthorn intake could be due to its content of phytochemicals, especially flavonoids and β-sitosterol.

“Studies with green tea and black tea have suggested that polyphenolic compounds (such as theaflavin and catechin) might play a role in improving blood lipid profiles via inhibiting cholesterol absorption in the intestine and accelerating the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids,”​ said the team – adding that other reports have suggested the phytochemicals in green tea may also reduce the solubility of cholesterol in micelles.

“Therefore, it is possible that the effects of sea buckthorn flavonoids could have a similar action on cholesterol absorption to the phytochemicals in tea."

Source: Trends in Food Science & Technology
Volume 61, March 2017, Pages 1–10, doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2016.11.007
“Effect of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) on blood lipid profiles: A systematic review and meta-analysis from 11 independent randomized controlled trials”
Authors: Xiao-fei Guo, et al

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