Sterols play major role in dietary portfolio for hearts

Almost one-third of cholesterol reductions achieved by consuming a heart-healthy diet are due to plant sterols, suggests a new study from Canada that supports the ingredient’s efficacy. Forty-two subjects with high cholesterol levels were assigned to eat a diet high in soy protein, viscous fibres, and almonds for 80 weeks, and supplemented with plant sterols. At the end of the study, significant reductions were observed in LDL cholesterol levels, report the researchers in the journal Metabolism. Jenkins and co-workers prescribed the 42 subjects (average age 63) to a diet containing viscous fibres (10 g/1,000 kcal), soy protein (22.5 g/1,000 kcal), and almonds (23 g/1,000 kcal) for 80 weeks. In addition, plant sterols were taken (one gram per 1,000 kcal), except during weeks 52 to 62. Over the course of the study, LDL-cholesterol levels decreased by an average of 15.4 per cent, while such reductions were only 9.0 per cent in the absence of plant sterols. Complete data was only available in 18 subjects, but similar reductions were observed, report the researchers, with a 16.7 per cent decrease overall, and 10.3 per cent in the absence of sterols. The results showed, state Jenkins and co-workers, that plant sterols contribute over one-third of the LDL-cholesterol reductions observed in combination with other cholesterol-lowering foods. Increased plant sterol intakes are likely to have been a part of the ancestral human diet at about one gram per day and are part of a more plant-based diet as currently recommended for CHD risk reduction, including green leafy vegetables, raw or dry roasted nuts, and non-hydrogenated vegetable oils.
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Source: NutraIngredients