People already eating a healthy diet could lower their cholesterol even further by using a margarine enriched with plant sterols. A Japanese study published today reveals the potential heart health benefits of Flora pro.activ, a functional food spread from Anglo-Dutch group from Unilever.
In the study of Japanese men and women, Flora pro.activ reduced LDL or "bad" cholesterol, a key factor in heart health, by around 10 per cent. Traditionally, the Japanese diet is low in saturated fat and high in fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. The study authors suggest therefore that findings from the study highlight the fact that even their traditional 'cholesterol-lowering' diet can be further enhanced by the use of a cholesterol lowering spread.
Subjects consumed the equivalent in plant sterols of 22g Flora pro.activ per day over six weeks. Other than consuming the spread, they did not change their lifestyle, diet or physical activity during the study period.
"The study shows that people wishing to lower their cholesterol and already on a healthy diet can further reduce their LDL (bad) cholesterol by using Flora pro.activ," said Eve Knight of the British Cardiac Patients Association.
Dr Fady Ntanios, one of the study's authors, and a researcher at the Unilever Health Institute said: "This paper adds to the mounting evidence demonstrating the benefits of the plant sterol-ester-enriched spread to those people who are interested in lowering their cholesterol levels, and to those already following a healthy diet."
Full findings are published in the 1 November issue of the International Journal of Nutrition.