Birch bark may not be the first thought of individuals who have just received unhealthy cholesterol test results, but a new study has found that a nutrient in it may be able to help them get their cholesterol levels under control.
Researchers from the Shanghai Institute for Biological Studies analyzed the ingredient betulin, which is commonly found in birch bark. It has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy and was recently shown by University of Latvia researchers to inhibit inflammation.
For the current study, the researchers gave a group of mice either a betulin supplement, statin medication or placebo. They found that the mice that were given betulin were able to lower their cholesterol levels. This helped them avoid obesity and prevented insulin resistance.
In fact, the results were comparable to the mice that were given statin medications, which are the most widely prescribed drugs for lowering cholesterol.
The researchers said that more research needs to be conducted to determine if the nutrient is toxic at higher levels. However, they believe that it could become a useful tool in the battle against heart disease.