The launch of Yoplait Healthy Heart comes mid-way through Heart Awareness Month. With the focus on women's heart health this year, the company says its new product means women can continue to enjoy one of their favorite foods, while at the same time taking active measures to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is suggesting that they consume two 6-ounce servings of Yoplait Healthy Heart per day as part of a heart-healthy diet, which together provide 0.8 grams plant sterols - the same amount as in 70 carrots, 44 apples or 26 oranges.
"Heart disease is the number one killer of American women, but there are a few relatively simple steps women can take to lower their risk," said Jean Storlie, manager of General Mills' Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.
Almost 500,000 women die from heart disease in the United States each year - that is, nearly twice as many as all forms of cancer combined. Nonetheless, just 13 percent of American women consider heart disease to be a health threat.
"Research shows that adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle - such as a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and getting regular exercise - can lower heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent."
A study carried out at McGill University in Canada and published in the November 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that the consumption of plant sterols and taking of regular exercising can each contribute to affect blood cholesterol levels on their own. But the combination of both measures was seen to yield the most beneficial change in the volunteer's cholesterol and lipid levels.
Consuming 0.8 grams of plant sterols a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol is known to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Last February the AHA published guidelines in the journal Circulation, recommending that women also increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids and take folic acid supplements to help safeguard against disease.