Researchers analyze efficacy of chewable plant stanol ester supplements

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Jarun0111/iStock
Photo: Jarun0111/iStock

Related tags Low-density lipoprotein

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was reduced by 7.6% among study participants who were supplemented with 2 g per day of a chewable plant sterol ester, according to researchers at the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital.

In addition, 78% of the study participants said that they thought the chewable format made the supplement more convenient.

The supplements used were from Finnish company Raisio Nutrition, which also funded the study. “Its matrix is structurally completely different from commercially available plant stanol or plant sterol supplements such as softgel capsules or tablets,” ​the researchers wrote in their study, published​ in the Journal of Functional Foods.

Instead of swallowing, the supplements used in this study are chewable, made of emulsified plant stanol esters in a gelled water phase “in order to ensure effective release to the emulsified plant stanol esters from the product matrix in the stomach,” ​they said.

The objective was to map out the efficacy of a chewable format for plant stanol ester supplements. “There is a need for new dietary tools that are, in addition to having proven efficacy, convenient to use daily,”​ they added.

Study participants

A total of 131 volunteer participants were recruited from around Helsinki through local newspaper advertisements and notice boards. To be eligible, the participants had to be healthy men or women 18 years of age or older, have a LDL cholesterol concentration over 3 mmol/L, and a body mass index under 35.

The study was a randomized, controlled, double blind and parallel clinical trial that lasted four weeks. Participants were divided into two groups: One assigned the plant stanol ester supplement, and the other assigned a placebo.

Baseline data, which included blood samples, body measurements, and blood pressure, were collected at the initial clinic visit and once again after the intervention period. The study required participants to maintain their lifestyle habits, including diet and exercise.

Supplementation procedure

Supplementation requirement was to chew four pieces daily, two at a time with a meal for four weeks. The supplements were sugar free, sweetened with xylitol, and flavoured with lemon and lime.

Though there was a difference in consistency, the placebo supplements looked, smelled, and packaged like the plant stanol ester variety. Researchers tracked participant compliance using a daily diary that participants logged themselves.

Results: Chew plant stanol esters with food

After the intervention period, participants’ weight remained the same. However, there were changes in cholesterol levels—the plant stanol ester group found a 7.6% reduction in LDL cholesterol and 4.9% reduction in serum total cholesterol.

There was no statistically significant change in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or serum triacyglycerols between the groups.

A survey among participants found that a majority liked the taste of the supplement (68%) and thought the supplement was easy or very easy to consume daily at the advised dose of four weeks (78%).

“In order to displace cholesterol from mixed micelles, plant stanol esters must be hydrolysed in the upper part of the small intestine,”​ the researchers wrote.

“In the present chewable supplement the plant stanol esters were emulsified in a gelled water matrix that release the emulsified plant stanol esters effectively in the stomach,”​ the researchers added. “The supplement was consumed as part of a meal to ensure effective hydrolysis of the plant stanol esters.”

Source: Journal of Functional Foods

Published online ahead of print:

Cholesterol lowering efficacy of plant stanol ester in a new type of product matrix, a chewable dietary supplement

Authors: Kirsi Laitinen, et al.

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