Author(s): Sidhu GS, Oakenfull DG
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Abstract 1. Saponins are steroid or triterpene glycosides which occur in a number of important food plants, including such staples as soya beans (Glycine max) and chickpeas (Cicer arietinum). They are known to be hypocholesterolaemic. 2. Some saponins form an insoluble complex with cholesterol which prevents its absorption from the small intestine. Others cause an increase in the faecal excretion of bile acids, an indirect route for elimination of cholesterol. 3. We have investigated the effects of different saponins on absorption of the bile salt sodium cholate from perfused loops of small intestine, in vivo, in the rat. Purified saponins from soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), soya beans and quillaia (Quillaia saponaria) reduced the rate of absorption of the bile salt; soya-bean and soapwort saponins substantially so but quillaia saponin to a much lesser extent. 4. These results were explained by the formation of large mixed micelles by bile acid and saponin molecules in aqueous solution. These aggregates can have molecular weights in excess of 10(6) daltons, consequently the bile acid molecules incorporated in them are not available for absorption. 5. Control of plasma cholesterol and nutrient absorption through dietary saponins could provide substantial health and nutritional benefits in humans.
This article was published in Br J Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Pharmacognosy & Natural Products