The product joins Valio’s Evolus Double Effect range that includes shot drinks, yoghurts and fermented milk but Valio said the spread had the potential to be the most popular.
“Research shows that consumers find the new spread the most attractive, especially in terms of ease of use, since nine out of ten Finns put a spread on bread as part of their daily diet,” the company said.
The spread contains a combination of peptides and plant sterols and is being sold on the Finnish market. It has been endorsed by the Finnish Heart Association and carries the logo the group authorises for use on healthy products.
Approximately half of Finnish adults have raised cholesterol values and about one in three have raised blood pressure. Similar rates are prevalent in most western countries.
“Valio is first to combine two functional components in a single spread,” said Valio Product Group Manager Marita Silvola.
Valio said the spread was also low in salt, saturated fatty acids and lactose, and was fortified with vitamins A and D.
It said consuming the product in combination with other foods such as yoghurts and breads could deliver efficacious dosages.
“Valio Evolus Double Effect products are recommended for use as part of a balanced and varied diet with regular portions of fruit and vegetables and come with a range of other qualities including low fat, low lactose, lactose free, added A and D vitamins, gluten free and additive free,” the company said.
Valio’s study appeared in the Journal of Functional Foods, and found consumption of the combined spread led to significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, as well decreases in systolic blood pressure (BP).
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) cost €192 billion in health care costs across the 27-member states of the European Union in 2007 according to the European Heart Network.
The Valio scientists, collaborating with researchers from Doctagon Oy, Medcare Oy, and the University of Helsinki, recruited 62 people with hypertension and elevated LDL cholesterol levels for the randomised, placebo-controlled double-blind trial.
Subjects were randomised to consume 20 grams per day of a spread containing 4.2mg milk peptides (isoleucine-proline-proline (IPP), and valine-proline-proline (VPP)) and 2 grams of plant sterol esters (Cognis), or placebo for 10 weeks.
Among the 58 subjects who finished the trial, Turpeinen and his co-workers observed a significant decrease in systolic BP of 6 mmHg in the spread group, compared to placebo, while diastolic BP did not change in either group.
“The present study is the first one to show an antihypertensive effect when IPP and VPP are consumed in a low-fat spread,” wrote the researchers. “The results suggest that a spread containing bioactive milk peptides and plant sterols has a beneficial effect on two major cardiovascular risk factors, blood pressure and plasma lipids, in hypertensive, dyslipidemic subjects.”
Valio in February teamed up with Unilever to launch a probiotic spread in the German and Swedish markets under Unilever’s low-fat Lätta brand.
At the time Valio’s export manager of technology sales, Kalle Leporanta, said spreads offered the benefit of a format that did not come with associated high-sugar levels as was often the case with drinkable and spoonable yoghurts.
“This is a new gap in the market so we will see how it succeeds,” Leporanta told NutraIngredients.com “It will be interesting to see consumer feedback.”
Fellow Finnish supplier, Raisio, recently sold its margarine business to Bunge for €80m.
That sale includes margarine plants in Finland and Poland, and brands including Keiju, Makuisa, Masmix and Pyszny Duet.