Each time you come across cholesterol in the press and everyday conversation, it is almost always in a negative light. Yet, cholesterol is actually useful for the body. It is a key building block in the production of vital hormones, vitamins and other essential compounds.
But as always, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing and cholesterol is no exception. Also, cholesterol comes in two forms:
An increase in bad cholesterol could clog your blood vessels and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Regular exercise, healthy diet and, where necessary, prescription medication are key to reducing your levels of cholesterol. But health supplements may also provide much needed support. Could glucomannan be one of the supplements that could aid in getting your cholesterol back to healthy levels? We are going to find out.
What is Glucomannan
Glucomannan is a dietary fiber present in the root of the konjac plant (Amorphophallus konjac). It is water soluble and has chalked up a reputation for its unusually high capacity for water absorption — as much as 50 times of its own weight.
Why is this important? It transforms into a viscous expanding gel once it comes into contact with water through the digestive tract. That in turn leads to a feeling of satiety and naturally decelerates food intake. This is why glucomannan has been a popular component in fat burners, constipation relievers and other supplements targeting gastrointestinal health.
It’s not hard to see why some believe it could play a role in cholesterol management as well. Presumptions aside, the current scientific research has something to say about it.
Studies on Glucomannan’s Ability to Lower Cholesterol
The research on glucomannan and cholesterol takes one of two approaches.
One thing that becomes clear when scanning available studies is that the evidence is overwhelmingly positive — glucomannan helps regulate cholesterol.
It looked at multiple clinical trials assessing the impact of glucomannan on various parameters including levels of LDL cholesterol.
Researchers found glucomannan lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol but had no effect on HDL cholesterol. As far as arguments in favor of glucomannan go, this is what one would consider the ideal outcome — reduction in bad cholesterol but no impact on good cholesterol.
and came to a similar finding. That is, glucomannan supplementation was associated with significant reduction in LDL cholesterol.
In fact, glucomannan’s impact on cholesterol has been established in studies as far back as 1984. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that the group on the konjac root extract had a sizable reduction in LDL cholesterol.
In 2023, scientists examined the impact of glucomannan on incidents of atherosclerosis in rabbits.
The findings were published in the Heliyon journal. They found that glucomannan countered the risk of high fat diet induced atherosclerosis by reducing the amount of plaque in trial subjects as well as regulating blood lipids such as cholesterol.
Several experts hold that glucomannan’s impact on cholesterol ultimately boils down to the same reason it's used in weight loss supplements. In other words, by suppressing appetite and regulating metabolism, it reduces the intake and absorption of LDL cholesterol-increasing foods.
Glucomannan Side Effects and Safe Dosage
Glucomannan has multiple side effects especially if taken in larger quantities than is recommended. Based on current studies, the dosage that has the desired impact on LDL cholesterol but that carries low risk of adverse effect falls anywhere between 1,000 mg and 3,000 mg per day.
Side effects include flatulence, diarrhea and bloating. Also, given that glucomannan enlarges when in contact with water, it may cause choking in the extremely rare instance that it expands in the throat before it reaches the stomach.
The science does check out after all. Glucomannan is an effective supplement in the management of LDL cholesterol. Of course, taking glucomannan alone without making any positive changes to your lifestyle is unlikely to have any impact. It works best when combined with exercise, a balanced diet and adequate rest.
If you are struggling with unhealthy cholesterol levels, work with your doctor to craft a combination of remedies (perhaps including glucomannan) more likely to realize a reduction the fastest and safest.