The biscuits looked and tasted alike, so the volunteers did not know when they were getting Chitosan and when they were not.

The results of this “Chitosan Biscuits” study were impressive and again, whet the appetite for more studies. The researchers noted that “When 3-6 grams a day of Chitosan were given in the diet to 8 healthy males, total serum cholesterol significantly decreased. . . .” But when the young men stopped eating the Chitosan biscuits, their cholesterol levels quickly jumped back up to where they had been. Not only that, but the amount of bile acids they excreted increased when they ate the Chitosan biscuits. This is important, for the body uses bile acids to make cholesterol. When there are fewer bile acids present, the body manufactures less cholesterol, so pushing out excess bile acids is important for good heart health. (The authors of this study theorized that Chitosan combines with the bile acids, preventing the body from reabsorbing them and using them to synthesize cholesterol. By tying up bile acids in the intestines, Chitosan may also help to reduce the risk of cancer of the colon.)

Chitosan’s ability to lower cholesterol in humans is supported by animal studies, including a 1989 study published in the Journal of Nutrition9 in which Chitosan was compared to cellulose and guar gum. Of the 3 fibers under examination, Chitosan “most effectively lowered cholesterol absorption.”

But in the study with the 8 young men and the biscuits, Chitosan did more than push down the total cholesterol: It also caused the good HDL cholesterol to rise. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the helpful cholesterol that carries plaque and debris away from the artery walls and to the liver for disposal. While we want our total cholesterol levels to be low, we want our HDL levels to be high. During the course of this study, Chitosan increased the HDL levels from an average of 51 to 56—a 10 percent increase, which is both significant and healthful.

Although not discussed in this study, other researchers have reported that Chitosan can lower the bad LDL cholesterol, 10 even as it pushes down the total cholesterol and raises the beneficial HDL. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is believed to be, in many ways, the opposite of HDL. Where the good HDL carries cholesterol away from the artery walls, LDL is guilty of sticking it there in the first place, encouraging the formation of blockages and clots that can spell disaster. Keeping the LDL low is vital—I tell my patients that it should be 100 or less and the HDL should be above 50.

Having spent over 40 years on the front lines of crisis medicine, I’ve treated thousands of patients suffering from heart disease and other ailments related to elevated cholesterol. I’m delighted to report that Chitosan can help people keep their arteries, especially the vital coronary arteries, cleaner by lowering cholesterol levels.


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