Cholesterol Lowering Compounds
Saponins are cholesterol-lowering compounds naturally found in several plants, but are especially rich in alfalfa, soybeans, chickpeas and the yucca plant. Saponins are also found in herbs such as garlic, fenugreek, ginseng, red clover and guarana.
Saponins interfere with cholesterol absorption and latch onto cholesterol as they pass it in the intestinal tract.
Many of these compounds serve as "natural antibiotics" for the plant but now scientists are looking at how they can help humans fight fungal infections, combat microbes and viruses, boost the effectiveness of certain vaccine and knock out some kinds of tumor cells particularly lung and blood cancers. They can also lower blood cholesterol thereby reducing heart disease. Their natural tendency to ward off microbes may prove to be especially useful for treating those difficult to control fungal and yeast infections.
One of the most exciting prospects for saponins are how they appear to inhibit or kill cancer cells. They may also be able to do it without killing normal cells in the process as is the mode of present cancer-fighting drugs. Cancer cells have more cholesterol-type compounds in their membranes than normal cells. Saponins can bind cholesterol and thus interfere with cell growth and division. While drugs have side effects, many of them serious, saponins are safe.
This is truly a plant compound right now and does not technically belong under the vitamin category, but the hope for this compound is high and well worth being aware of. Studies are in the works here in America.
In Europe, studies have shown significant reductions in all the cholesterol clogging fats as well as increase the good HDL's.
Saponins are considered safe and small amounts are already in our soda beverages for that familiar fizz. The two most common sources for saponin supplements are the alfalfa and yucca plants.
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