Background: Soluble fibers, including those from psyllium husk, have been shown to augment the cholesterol-lowering effects of a low-fat diet in persons with hypercholesterolemia. As evidence of this, the US Food and Drug Administration recently authorized the use of health claims on food products containing soluble fiber from psyllium that state that they are associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
Objective: This meta-analysis was conducted to more precisely define the hypolipidemic effects and safety of psyllium when used adjunctive to a low-fat diet in men and women with hypercholesterolemia.
Design: The 8 studies in the meta-analysis included a total of 384 and 272 subjects receiving psyllium or cellulose placebo, respectively. All studies evaluated the hypocholesterolemic effects of 10.2 g psyllium/d adjunctive to a low-fat diet for >/=8 wk in individuals with mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia after a low-fat diet lead-in phase lasting >/=8 wk. The safety and adverse events associated with psyllium consumption were summarized from pooled data of 19 clinical studies ranging from 6 wk to 6 mo in duration.
Results: Consumption of 10.2 g psyllium/d lowered serum total cholesterol by 4% (P < 0.0001), LDL cholesterol by 7% (P < 0.0001), and the ratio of apolipoprotein (apo) B to apo A-I by 6% (P < 0.05) relative to placebo in subjects already consuming a low-fat diet, with no effect on serum HDL or triacylglycerol concentrations.
Conclusions: Psyllium supplementation significantly lowered serum total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in subjects consuming a low-fat diet. Psyllium is well tolerated and safe when used adjunctive to a low-fat diet in individuals with mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia.