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In vitro hypocholesterolemic potential of dietary additives used by the Batemi and Maasai people : (Hypocholesterolemic potential of additives from a traditional diet)

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Saponins.
  • Masai (African People) -- Nutrition.
  • Hypocholesteremia.
  • Anticholesteremic Agents.
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Dietary phytochemicals such as saponins have been suggested to have therapeutic uses in the prevention and alleviation of hypercholesterolemia. Thus, twelve Tanzanian plant additives hypothesized to contain saponins and used in soup by the Batemi, were investigated for in vitro hypocholesterolemic potential by: (1) screening for likelihood of detectable saponins using TLC, hemolysis, frothing ability and molluscicidal activity. (2) using changes in hemolytic activity to indirectly examine interactions of plant extracts with cholesterol, cholesterol-analogues, conjugated bile salts and non-conjugated bile salts. (3) using radiolabelled cholesterol to examine direct binding capacity of extracts with cholesterol. Albizia anthelmintica, Myrsine africana and Acacia goetzii were most likely to contain saponins and had significant (p $<$ 0.05) hemolytic activity that was effected by the presence of cholesterol, cholesterol analogues, conjugated and non-conjugated bile salts (p $<$ 0.05). Methanol, ethyl acetate, aqueous and n-butanol extracts of A. anthelmintica and methanol, ethyl acetate and aqueous extracts of A. goetzii bound significant amounts of cholesterol solubilized in ethanol (p $<$ 0.05). Thus, saponins are a detectable component of the Batemi diet and extracts likely containing saponins do interact with chemicals that have been proposed to be involved in in vivo mechanisms of saponin induced hypocholesterolemia. A. anthelmintica and A. goetzii seem likely to have hypocholesterolemic potential as dietary additives.

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