A spread containing plant sterols and bioactive peptides from milk may reduce cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure, says a new study.
“Thus, a combined reduction of both [blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels] would have a major impact on cardiovascular risk.”
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which cost €192 billion in health care costs across the 27-member state EU in 2007 according to the European Heart Network, can be sub-classified into categories such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
The Valio scientists, collaborating with researchers from Doctagon Oy, Medcare Oy, and the University of Helsinki, recruited 62 people with hypertension (systolic BP at least 140 mmHg and diastolic BP between 85 and 99 mmHg) and with elevated LDL cholesterol levels (between 3.5 and 5.5 mmol/l) to take part in the randomised, placebo-controlled double-blind trial.
Subjects were randomised to consume 20 grams per day of a spread containing 4.2 mg milk peptides and 2 grams of plant sterol esters or placebo for 10 weeks.
Among the 58 subjects who finished the trial, Turpeinen and his co-workers observed a significant decrease in systolic BP of 6 mmHg in the spread group, compared to placebo, while diastolic BP did not change in either group.
“The present study is the first one to show an antihypertensive effect when IPP and VPP are consumed in a low-fat spread,” wrote the researchers.
Furthermore, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol decreased by 0.33 and 0.27 mmol/l in the spread group, respectively, but did not change in the placebo group. On the other hand, no changes in HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels were observed.
“A 3 to 5 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure is estimated to decrease the risk of stroke by 15 per cent and the risk of myocardial infarction by 10 per cent,” said the researchers. “Respectively, a 0.6 mmol/l (10 per cent) decrease in LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 20 to 50 per cent depending on age.”
“The results suggest that a spread containing bioactive milk peptides and plant sterols has a beneficial effect on two major cardiovascular risk factors, blood pressure and plasma lipids, in hypertensive, dyslipidemic subjects.
“Functional foods affecting two major risk factors can be valuable tools in managing cardiovascular risk,” they concluded.
By Stephen Daniells, 15-Apr-2009