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Pycnogenol may help raise good HDL cholesterol

Plants contain natural compounds, called phytochemicals, which help them grow, spread, and repel disease, but there is little research on how phytochemicals may increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol, in humans.

This review analyzed findings from 14 recent lipid clinical trials covering 1,065 participants that took a placebo or Pycnogenol over a range of study periods. Overall, participants that took Pycnogenol saw an average increase in HDL of 3.27 mg per deciliter of blood.

Doctors said the studies did not measure lipids in the diet, but that the significant increases in HDL suggest Pycnogenol may help prevent heart and circulatory diseases. Pycnogenol contains antioxidants, including procyanidins and phenolic acids, which help protect cells from oxidative stress. Pycnogenol also helps protect stores of vitamins C and E in the body.

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