Study extends understanding of phytosterol benefits

Phytosterol-enriched products may reduce apolipoprotein levels by up to four per cent, says a new study that highlights these markers as better than traditional risk factors. The study, published online in the journal Clinical Nutrition, is one of the first studies to consider alipoprotein levels as a measure of the benefits of phytosterols, and adds to a body of science supporting the efficacy of the ingredients for heart health. Numerous clinical trials in controlled settings have reported 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 new study, led by Martin Madsena from Arhus University Hospitals, looked at the effects of supplementing 46 people (average age 50.6) with 20 g low-fat margarine (35 per cent fat) and 250 ml low-fat milk (0.7 per cent fat), giving a total plant sterol dose of 2.3 g per day. The subjects were classed as mildly hypercholesterolemic (LDL cholesterol 3.0 to 5.5 mmol/l). «The apo B to apo A-I ratio decreased by 3.4 per cent and, interestingly, this ratio has recently been proposed the strongest marker of risk for vascular disease,» stated the researchers. «Our study showed that a combination of dietary intervention and low-fat margarine and milk enriched with plant sterols significantly reduced LDL cholesterol, apo B and the apo B to apo A-I ratio,» said the researchers. «Low-fat products enriched with plant sterols may therefore play a role in managing higher than desirable cholesterol levels.»
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Source: NutraIngredients