Anti-cholelithogenic potential of dietary spices and their bioactives

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 May 24;57(8):1749-1758. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2014.1003783.


Dietary hypocholesterolemic spices-curcumin (active compound of turmeric (Curcuma longa)) and capsaicin (active compound of red pepper (Capsicum annuum)), the active principles of spices-turmeric (Curcuma longa) and red pepper (Capsicum annuum), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds, garlic (Allium sativum), and onion (Allium cepa) are documented to have anti-cholelithogenic property in animal model. These spices prevent the induction of cholesterol gallstones by lithogenic high cholesterol diet and also regress the pre-established cholesterol gallstones, by virtue of their hypolipidemic potential. The antilithogenic influence of these spices is primarily attributable to their hypocholesterolemic effect. Increased cholesterol saturation index, cholesterol:phospholipid ratio and cholesterol:bile acid ratio in the bile caused by the lithogenic diet was countered by these spices. The antilithogenicity of these hypocholesterolemic spices was considered to be due also to their influence on biliary proteins that have pro-nucleating activity and anti-nucleating activity. Investigations on the involvement of biliary proteins in cholesterol crystal nucleation revealed that in an in vitro bile model, low molecular weight biliary proteins of the lithogenic diet fed animals have a pro-nucleating activity. On the contrary, low molecular weight biliary proteins of the animals fed hypocholesterolemic spices along with lithogenic diet showed a potent anti-nucleating activity.

Keywords: Spices; antilithogenic effect; biliary lipids; biliary proteins; cholesterol saturation index; hypocholesterolemic effect; nucleating and anti-nucleating factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Capsaicin / chemistry
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Capsicum / chemistry
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Curcumin / chemistry
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Diet*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gallstones / diet therapy
  • Garlic / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Onions / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Spices / analysis*
  • Trigonella / chemistry


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Plant Extracts
  • fenugreek seed meal
  • Curcumin
  • Capsaicin