The Effect of Milk Kefir on Cholesterol

At present, there has been an increase in the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people due to certain metabolic disorders in the body such as: increased cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure, diabetes among others, producing a harmful effect on health in general, especially the heart as the main organ of the human.

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) cardiovascular diseases will become a possible leading cause of death by 2030 due to high blood cholesterol levels. [1]

Cholesterol is a lipoprotein that circulates throughout the blood of the body, formed by lipids (fats) and proteins, which is responsible for transferring all those fats and proteins that circulate in the blood throughout the body.

This includes all vital organs such as the liver, heart, lungs, brain, spleen, kidneys among other organs, also large and small vessels and arteries that surround the organs, mainly the heart.

This lipoprotein is classified as lipoprotein LDL (bad cholesterol) in which it transports fat from the liver to other organs such as vessels and arteries. HDL lipoprotein (good cholesterol) transports circulating blood fat to the liver to produce hormones needed by the human body.

Nowadays it is very easy to have high cholesterol levels, along with triglycerides, due to poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and even an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota. Different scientific publications have described the close relationship between intestinal flora and cardiovascular diseases. [1]

One of the fundamental pillars in the treatment of cholesterol has been the use of conventional drugs, which have proven to be effective, but can be expensive and often have side effects. For this reason, new alternatives have been sought, among which is the consumption of probiotics.

New research has shown how effective probiotics are in normalizing blood cholesterol in animal models of rats. This is where milk kefir participates in which it is a functional food for being rich in probiotics, a product of lactic fermentation through bacteria and yeasts that brings various benefits to the body, among them, as an auxiliary in improving metabolic alterations. [2]

Next, we will break down to know how the consumption of milk kefir is related and its effect on cholesterol.

Can milk kefir lower cholesterol levels?

There are several studies showing that the use of probiotics in animals, especially with rats in vivo, have had very favorable results in normalizing high blood cholesterol levels. [3]

There is even a recent study on the use of Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, a microorganism that is present in kefir granules basically, and is attributed much of its favorable attributes in the human body.

In this scientific study they explained that by experimenting with animals the use of this bacterium it was possible to significantly reduce blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels in rats when they were subjected to large amounts of cholesterol in their daily diet. [4]

Another scientific publication is the same story as the previous one, but this time they used male rabbits with high cholesterol levels and  used the same bacteria orally demonstrating that it was completely absorbed into the blood, managing to regulate cholesterol levels, therefore, they suggest that the use of this probiotic ingesting could prevent the onset and development of atherosclerosis. [5]

Atherosclerosis is a fat clot caused by high levels of cholesterol in the blood, accumulating within the arteries and vessels that surround large organs such as the heart especially, causing an increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks or thrombosis.

There are statistics that confirm that men are more susceptible to obesity with metabolic alterations due to high blood cholesterol and for this reason suffer a heart attack compared to women.

In summary, this has aroused interest in using male animals in different investigations, as described in the previous report to demonstrate the effectiveness of the consumption of probiotics such as milk kefir and its effect on cholesterol.

Latest research on the study of using probiotics as nutritional therapy in a preventive way for cardiovascular diseases, explains that ingested probiotics decreased serum levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) in adults. [6]

This type of bad cholesterol is found in different fatty foods such as fried foods, meats with a lot of fat, soft drinks, sausages, cheeses, the consumption of fast food such as hamburger, hot dogs, excess complex carbohydrates such as pasta, cassava, potato, rice, among others.

In humans the evidence has been a bit contradictory, where we have for example this 2021 study with people with metabolic syndrome, where it was shown how it reduced LDL cholesterol, as well as blood pressure and consequently the prevention of cardiovascular events. [7]

On the other hand, we have a study from 2002 that concludes the following, I quote verbatim «the results of this study do not support the consumption of kefir as a cholesterol-lowering agent«. [8]

In conclusion, although there is some evidence in favor of the consumption of kefir to lower cholesterol levels, there is also evidence that indicates that it has no impact, but what is certain is that in no case has it favored the increase of this.

How can the probiotics in kefir help regulate cholesterol?

The microorganisms contained in kefir granules have different possible cholesterol-regulating functions, including:1

  • Through lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium achieve the assimilation of cholesterol by binding to intestinal cells.
  • During the excretion of bile salts in the intestinal duodenum, the probiotic microorganisms facilitate their exit using the main route of elimination of bad LDL cholesterol that is attached to this bile.
  • It helps regulate the intestinal microbiota to carry out the fermentation of certain foods that produce LDL fatty acids and therefore the decrease of bad cholesterol.  [1]
  • Lactic acid bacteria such as lactobacillus reduce cholesterol levels through interaction with bile.

What would be the recommended dose of milk kefir to prevent cardiovascular disease due to high cholesterol?

There are studies conducted in Maasai tribes of  Africa, in which it was found that this tribe despite having a daily diet of high protein consumption such as meat, always had their cholesterol levels within normal parameters, however this  same tribe consumed amounts of 4 to 5 liters regularly of fermented milk per day,  And it was very rare for people from this tribe to suffer from any cardiovascular disease. 1

Other studies indicate the participation of 26 volunteers in which they consumed large amounts of fermented milk, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. [1]

Since there are few probable studies regarding the dose of kefir in cholesterol, in the article mentioned above explains in a general way that every sick person can start taking from 180 ml and gradually increase until you reach about 500ml per day, although your level of tolerance to this probiotic also participates.

Now the importance of achieving the desired effect to help normalize cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease is its consumption on a regular basis, so you should include it in your daily eating plan.

Can milk kefir be used as cholesterol monotherapy?

The management to normalize cholesterol levels will always be fundamentally indicated by a good diet and regular physical exercises. Now alternately the consumption of probiotics is recommended, in this case milk kefir can be used as a supplement along with food and physical exercises to prevent the increase in LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol and avoid undesirable heart diseases.

Now if you already suffer from high cholesterol levels you can follow this same protocol mentioned and get the effect of lowering cholesterol.

The greatest risk of suffering from high cholesterol is poor diet, let’s say that this is the beginning of this condition, and lack of exercise promotes more its increase, however, there is also a close relationship in having an altered intestinal microbiota for different external causes and causing high cholesterol levels.

This is where the effect of probiotics will participate, so it is important to include them in our eating plan, apart from obtaining all the other benefits that this food gives us such as strengthening the immune system.

If you liked the article leave us a comment, as well as if you have doubts that we will try to reduce, for now, be cordially invited to continue informing you about the world of fermented with the following posts.