Sterol margarines: Low-doses best for heart health, says study
By Stephen Daniells, 11-Jun-2009
Frequent low doses of plant sterols may be more effective at cutting cholesterol levels than one daily dose, say findings of a new North American study.
“To obtain optimal cholesterol-lowering impact, plant sterols should be consumed as smaller doses given more often, rather than one large dose,” wrote the researchers, led by Professor Peter Jones from the University of Manitoba.
Numerous clinical trials carried out in controlled settings led researchers to report that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17 per cent, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Manitoba researchers, in collaboration with scientists from McGill University and Tufts University, recruited 19 subjects and randomly assigned them to one of three phases: a control margarine (placebo); one dose of sterol-enriched margarine with breakfast, providing a daily dose of 1.8 grams; or the same dose but divided equally among the three main meals of the day.
The phases lasted for 6 days, and, following a washout phase, the subjects were crossed over to the other phases.
At the end of the study, whereby all the subjects had participated in each of the phases, Jones and his co-workers report that, while the single dose did not improve LDL levels, relative to the placebo, consuming 1.8 grams over three intervals reduced LDL by 6 per cent.
Furthermore, consuming sterols three times a day reduced the cholesterol-absorption efficiency by 36 per cent, while the single dose reduced this measure by 39 per cent.
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 63, Pages 747-755, doi:10.1038/ejcn.2008.36
“Plant sterol consumption frequency affects plasma lipid levels and cholesterol kinetics in humans”
Authors: S.S. AbuMweis, C.A. Vanstone, A.H. Lichtenstein, P.J.H. Jones