Nutraceutical Approaches to Metabolic Syndrome

Ann Med. 2017 Dec;49(8):678-697. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2017.1366042. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), affecting at least 30% of adults in the Western World, is characterized by three out of five variables, from high triglycerides, to elevated waist circumference and blood pressure. MetS is not characterized by elevated cholesterolemia, but is rather the consequence of a complex interaction of factors generally leading to increased insulin resistance. Drug treatments are of difficult handling, whereas well-characterized nutraceuticals may offer an effective alternative. Among these, functional foods, e.g. plant proteins, have been shown to improve insulin resistance and reduce triglyceride secretion. Pro- and pre-biotics, that are able to modify intestinal microbiome, reduce absorption of specific nutrients and improve the metabolic handling of energy-rich foods. Finally, specific nutraceuticals have proven to be of benefit, in particular, red-yeast rice, berberine, curcumin as well as vitamin D. All these can improve lipid handling by the liver as well as ameliorate insulin resistance. While lifestyle approaches, such as with the Mediterranean diet, may prove to be too complex for the single patient, better knowledge of selected nutraceuticals and more appropriate formulations leading to improved bioavailability will certainly widen the use of these agents, already in large use for the management of these very frequent patient groups. Key messages Functional foods, e.g. plant proteins, improve insulin resistance. Pro- and pre-biotics improve the metabolic handling of energy-rich foods. Nutraceutical can offer a significant help in handling MetS patients being part of lifestyle recommendations.

Keywords: Metabolic syndrome; berberine and vitamin D; nutraceuticals; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Berberine / metabolism
  • Berberine / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / metabolism
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Curcumin / metabolism
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / therapeutic use*
  • Prebiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Probiotics / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Waist Circumference


  • Biological Products
  • Blood Glucose
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary
  • Prebiotics
  • red yeast rice
  • Berberine
  • Vitamin D
  • Lipoprotein Lipase
  • Curcumin