Can Sage Help Lower Your Cholesterol?

fresh sage leaves on a table
Helen Rushbrook/Stocksy United

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an herb commonly found on your spice rack. You may use it to add flavor to your favorite entrees and sides, but did you know that sage may have some surprising health benefits including improving your cholesterol and triglycerides?

Sage originated in the Mediterranean and is grown in many countries throughout the world. The leaves are commonly dried and added to a variety of foods for seasoning, such as meats and dressings. Although sage is mostly used as a culinary herb, it has also been used in alternative medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including sore throat, diabetes, upset stomach, and inflammation. A previous study noted that certain chemicals in sage can interact with peroxisome proliferator activated receptor—gamma (PPAR-gamma), a molecule in the body that's been shown to decrease inflammation, lower blood sugar, and block lipid absorption when activated. Because of this potential mechanism of action, sage is also thought to help lower cholesterol levels—but does it actually work?

Does Sage Lower Cholesterol?

A few studies performed in a small number of people with diabetes, healthy people, and others with high cholesterol have noted a positive effect on lipid levels. These studies involved people ingesting anywhere between 400 mg to 1500 mg of sage daily as a powder, tea or supplement for up to three months. In the few studies that showed sage to be effective:

  • Total cholesterol levels were lowered by between 16 and 20 percent
  • LDL cholesterol levels were lowered by at least 12 percent
  • HDL cholesterol levels were increased by up to 20 percent
  • Triglycerides were lowered by at least 18 percent

In other studies, lipid levels did not appear to be significantly affected by ingesting sage. Sage contains a variety of heart-healthy ingredients that could contribute to its cholesterol-lowering abilities, including phytosterols, flavonoids, and antioxidants such as terpenoids, carnosic​ acid, and polyphenols.

Should You Include Sage in Your Lipid-Lowering Diet?

There aren't many studies that have examined the effectiveness of sage in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but the results from these studies appear promising. Although no definite link has been established between sage and lowered lipid levels, this low-fat, low-calorie herb may be included in a heart-healthy diet especially if you are using sage to season your foods instead of using ingredients like butter or salt.

Cooking With Sage

Sage has an overpowering taste so it is typically added to foods and not consumed alone. This herb is frequently used in a lot of dishes, so you will not have a problem finding it in grocery stores. There are many types of foods you can season with sage, including:

  • Add sage to your proteins. You can sprinkle fresh or dried sage leaves onto lean beef, poultry, or fish before or during cooking to yield a lightly seasoned, tasty meal. Just make sure to remove the fat from some of the fattier cuts of meat before consuming.
  • Add sage to side dishes. Sage tastes delicious in certain sides. Feel free to sprinkle sage onto your dressings, veggies, or beans. A small amount of sage is enough to give extra flavor to your side dishes.
  • Add sage to soups and stews. Sage can add flavor to filling soups containing any low-fat ingredients of your choice. While most recipes call for one-half teaspoon of dried sage for best flavoring, the above studies used a lot more than this per serving (2.5 teaspoons of dried sage = 1 gram) to obtain their cholesterol-lowering effect.
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Article Sources
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