Probiotics and Heart Disease

The Emerging Role of Gut Microbes in Heart Disease

In the past few years, researchers have determined that specific strains of probiotics have the ability to target disease-specific risk factors. This is especially true for cardiovascular or heart disease.1-3

Probiotics and research on the human “microbiome” have become increasingly popular for their ability to boost our body’s immune system and immunity as well as aiding in digestion (see The Human Microbiome). Specifically, a strain of Lactobacillus called L. reuteri 30242 has been found to remove excess cholesterol as well as increase the metabolism of cholesterol.4-5

This is also done without the side effects of taking statin drugs as well as lowering both the total and LDL fractions of cholesterol.

What Do You Need to Know About Probiotics and Heart Disease?

  • Cardiovascular or Heart Disease is still one of the leading causes of death in Americans
  • Probiotics, which are cultures of beneficial organisms, have been used to promote GI health for many years
  • Recent research has allowed researchers to produce probiotics for specific conditions like the Lactobacillus strain called L. reuteri 30242 for heart disease
  • L. reuteri 30242 makes a specific enzyme that “traps” cholesterol in the intestine, prevents it from being absorbed and lowering the total cholesterol level.
  • More cholesterol level reduction comes from the bacteria’s ability to increase cholesterol metabolism which promotes breakdown and excretion of cholesterol.
  • Clinical studies show that L. reuteri 30242 lowers cholesterol without the side effects of drugs like the statins as well as reducing the markers of inflammation that promote heart disease

What Should You Do?

If you are serious about reducing the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease like heart attack or stroke, see your health care professional to discuss whether or not you should be on this “cutting-edge” probiotic.


1Tuohy KM, Fava F, Viola R. The way to a man’s heart is through his gut microbiota-dietary pro-and prebiotics for the management of cardiovascular risk. Proc Nutr Soc. 2014;73(02):172-85.

2Taranto MP, Perigon G, Medici M, de Valez GF. Animal model for in vivo evaluation of cholesterol reduction by lactic acid bacteria. Methods Mol Biol. 2004;268:417-22.

3Ebel B, Lematais G, Beney L, et al.Impact of probiotics on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(2):175-89.

4Jones ML, Martoni CJ, Parent M, Prakash S. Cholesterol-lowering efficacy of a microencapsulated bile salt hydolase-active Lactobacillus reuterib NCIMB yoghurt formulation in hypercholesterolaemic adults. Br J Nutr. May 2012;107(10):1505-13.

5Jones M, Martoni CJ, Prakash S. Cholesterol-lowering and inhibition of sterol absorption by Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012;66(11):1234-41.