Background: Recently, insoluble fibre from carob pulp has been found to affect blood lipids in animals in a similar manner as soluble dietary fibre.
Aim of the study: To investigate whether a carob pulp preparation containing high amounts of insoluble fibre has a beneficial effect on serum cholesterol in humans.
Methods: Volunteers (n = 58) with hypercholesterolemia were recruited to participate in a randomised, double- blind, placebo-controlled and parallel arm clinical study with a 6 week intervention phase. All participants consumed daily both, bread (two servings) and a fruitbar (one serving) either with (n = 29) or without (n = 29) a total amount of 15 g/d of a carob pulp preparation (carob fibre). Serum concentrations of total, LDL and HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were assessed at baseline and after week 4 and 6.
Results: The consumption of carob fibre reduced LDL cholesterol by 10.5 +/- 2.2% (p = 0.010). The LDL:HDL cholesterol ratio was marginally decreased by 7.9 +/- 2.2 % in the carob fibre group compared to the placebo group (p = 0.058). Carob fibre consumption also lowered triglycerides in females by 11.3 +/- 4.5% (p = 0.030). Lipid lowering effects were more pronounced in females than in males.
Conclusion: Daily consumption of food products enriched with carob fibre shows beneficial effects on human blood lipid profile and may be effective in prevention and treatment of hypercholesterolemia.