Algae extract can increase good cholesterol levels in body, a new research says.

Researchers worked on animal models to test whether the algae extract affects cholesterol levels in the body. They fed 60 hamsters with high fat food (30 percent energy came from fat). These hamsters were then divided into groups. Each group was kept either on 5 percent extract solution or on 20 percent extract solution.

Results showed that hamsters that were fed ProAlgaZyme had low levels of LDL and high levels of HDL.

"The cholesterol mechanism is crucial to heart disease. Very few agents increase good cholesterol, but we found that this algae extract does. The ratio of total to HDL cholesterol improved significantly. This result, if replicated in humans, would be consistent with a decreased risk of heart disease," Smiti Gupta, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, low density lipoproteins cholesterol make up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. This is the 'bad' cholesterol because excess of LDL can build-up in the arteries causing heart diseases.

High density cholesterol or HDL is 'good' because it can absorb the LDL and take it back to liver. Having HDL in the body significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Researchers say that further tests are required before the extract can be marked as "safe for human use".

"Its biological effect over time and toxic effects, if any, need to be further investigated in a long-term study in an animal model before testing its effects in humans. But this is a step in the right direction, since increased HDL is considered an important therapeutic target for improvement of the lipid profile and thus reduction of the risk for cardiovascular disease," she said.

The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietary Supplements.