Rose Hips for Heart Health?
The high fiber content of rose hip may contribute to their benefits in both blood pressure and cholesterol lowering
Everyone has heard that eating fruits and vegetables may help prevent disease, but increasing research reveals that foods we don't typically think about have important health-promoting effects. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
found that obese people who drank a daily rose hip
powder beverage lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure and ultimately lowered their risk for cardiovascular disease
by as much as 17%.
Rose hips improve health profile
Animal studies have shown that rose hips may help prevent obesity and diabetes and lower cholesterol. In this study, researchers looked at whether rose hips may have an impact on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in obese women and men.
Specifically, 31 obese participants were randomly assigned to receive a rose hips powder drink (containing 40 grams Rosa canina) or a control drink, daily for six weeks. Researchers monitored weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipids.
Results showed significant health profile changes in people who drank rose hip powder compared with the control group, including:
- 5% lower total cholesterol
- 6% lower LDL cholesterol
- 3.4% lower systolic blood pressure (systolic refers to the top number in a blood pressure reading)
- And, as a result of these changes, 17% lower cardiovascular risk
"The current study could be the starting point for exploring rose hip as a constituent of food portfolios aimed at reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, and thereby decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and mortality," said the study authors from the Department of Experimental Medical Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. They also point out that foods such as rose hips may serve as an alternative to cholesterol-lowering medications for people who cannot tolerate such drugs due to side effects, though more research is needed.
Health promoting effects of rose hips
- A hip remedy? We should think of rose hip as the "fruit" of the rose plant, according to the study authors, who point out that rose hips are rich in plant compounds that may promote better health by reducing inflammation. Rose hips have been used as a remedy for medical conditions for thousands of years, and current research has found benefit from rose hip for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, and other conditions.
- Think fiber. The high fiber content of rose hip may contribute to their benefits in both blood pressure and cholesterol lowering. The people in this study who drank the rose hip drink had at least 31 grams of fiber a day. Cholesterol-lowering foods usually contain fiber and other plant compounds, and the study authors comment that rose hip may have a similar added benefit when included in the diet.
- See a doctor. Talk with a doctor about your risk for cardiovascular disease and about important dietary and lifestyle steps you can take to protect your health. Discuss your interest in supplements or novel foods to learn more about the risks and benefits.
(Euro J Clin Nutr 2011; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.203)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.