Plant stanol-ester enriched foods diet can cut CVD risk, study

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Low-density lipoprotein, Stanol ester

Plant stanol ester-enriched foods could reduce cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk especially for consumers not following a Mediterranean-style diet, claims a new study from Greece.

The study, which was published in the journal, Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases​, shows that a diet including plant stanol-ester enriched foods and a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables, vegetable oil, legumes, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products are equally effective in reducing the estimated risk of CVD.

A coronary heart disease risk reduction health claim for plant stanol ester was recently accepted by the EU Commission.

The results of this study, which was conducted at the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki, further strengthen the role of the Mediterranean diet but the researchers claim that adherence to this type of diet is decreasing even in countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and as a result, claim the researchers, another viable option for CVD reduction might be plant stanol ester-based foods..

Study details

The research team said the study involved 150 participants with mildly elevated cholesterol levels participated in the four month long intervention, who were randomized and subjected to a Mediterranean-style diet, a diet containing plant stanol esters (2 g/day) or a placebo spread.

Vascular risk factors were assessed every month for 4 months and the eCVD risk was calculated by three different risk engines including PROCAM, Framingham, and Reynolds risk engines, said the authors.

The results showed that the Mediterranean-style diet gradually reduced the levels of several risk factors of CVD, including total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. “These moderate but significant changes resulted in a significant 24 to 32 per cent reduction in the estimated CVD risk,”​ found the researchers.

Comparatively, the plant stanol ester-containing diet induced a fast and substantial reduction in total and LDL cholesterol resulting in a 26 to 30 per cent reduction in the estimated CVD risk already after one month, reported the researchers.

These effects were sustained for the whole four month duration of the study.

The cholesterol lowering foods market in the UK is worth €142m according to IRI figures for the 52 weeks ending July 12, 2009. Raisio's Benecol possesses just under half of the UK market, but has overtaken Unilever's pro.activ as the market leader.

Source: Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases
Published online ahead of print:​doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.08.014
Title:Effect of plant stanol ester-containing spread, placebo spread, or Mediterranean diet on estimated cardiovascular risk and lipid, inflammatory and haemostatic factors
Authors: Athyros VG et al.

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