for cholesterol cuts supported by review
By Stephen Daniells
Related topics: Research, Phytochemicals, plant extracts, Cardiovascular
Phytosterol-enriched foods are efficacious for reducing levels of LDL
cholesterol, with no differences between stanols and sterols, or
delivery in fat or non fat foods, says a new review.
By reviewing 84 trials, researchers from Unilever R&D and Wageningen
University report that the science supports the incorporation of
phytosterols in various food formats. The findings are published in the
new issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
“For the recommended intake of two grams per day, the expected LDL-C–lowering
effect of phytosterols is [about] 9 per cent,” wrote the authors, led
by Isabelle Demonty. “A reduction in LDL-C of about 10 per cent would
reduce the incidence of CHD by about 10-20 per cent.“Although no
direct evidence is available yet for the ability of phytosterols to
lower CHD incidence, the well-documented cholesterol-lowering effect of
phytosterols is the basis for recommendations to include phytosterols
into strategies to lower LDL-C concentrations,” they added.The study
is important as phytosterols are incorporated into more and more food
According to a recent market research conducted by Frost & Sullivan,
phytosterols are the most heart health targeted and benefited from
approved health claims in many markets (as well as recently approval
from the European Food Safety Authority).
The European market was valued at €421m in 2007 and growing at 20 per
cent.Unilever has a range of cholesterol-lowering products under the
Flora pro.activ brand. The range has achieved mainstream product
awareness via ongoing marketing campaigns and event sponsorship such as
a long-term tie-in with the London marathon. Its major rival in the area
- Benecol - had also done a lot of marketing work to boost sales and
The researchers identified 165 trials but narrowed the list to 84 after
applying stricter inclusion criteria. The review evaluated the impact of
different characteristics such as phytosterol type (plant sterols or
stanols) and the impact of food format (fat-based or non fat-based,
dairy or non-dairy, and liquid or solid food formats) on the
Demonty and her co-workers report that, overall, an average intake of
2.15 grams of phytosterols per day was linked to a reduction in LDL
cholesterol levels of 0.34 mmol/L, equivalent to an 8.8 per cent drop.
While there were no significant differences between sterols or stanols,
or fat-based or non fat-based, and dairy or non-dairy food formats, the
researchers did observe a larger effect for solid foods, compared to
liquid foods at phytosterol doses over two grams per day.
Furthermore, a “strong tendency” was observed for higher efficacy of
multiple daily intakes, compared to a single daily intake of
phytosterols.The researchers also propose an equation to quantify the
effect of specific phytosterol doses. However, they cautioned on the
application of the mathematics due to large variations between the
“The key outcome of this review and meta-analysis is the generation of
a physiologically relevant, continuous dose-response relationship for
the LDL-C–lowering effect of phytosterols,” wrote the researchers.“By
including not only fat-based foods consumed multiple times per day but
also low-fat or fat-free foods and food formats intended for once-a-day
use, this approach provides an updated estimation of the LDL
cholesterol-lowering efficacy of phytosterols in the variety of
available food formats.
Source: Journal of Nutrition
Volume 139, Pages 271-284
“Continuous dose-response relationship of the LDL-cholesterol-lowering
effect of phytosterol intake”
Authors: I. Demonty, R.T. Ras RT, H.C.M. van der Knaap, G.S.M.J.E.
Duchateau, L. Meijer, P.L. Zock, J.M. Geleijnse, E.A.
The above article has been corrected after paragraph three inaccurately
stated a cholesterol-lowering effect of 29 per cent instead of around 9
per cent. As stated later in the article, the actual reduction was 8.8
per cent. Apologies.
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Sea Buckthorn Berries
Hippophaë rhamnoides L.
Sterols in seeds,
pulp/peel fractions, and whole berries of sea buckthorn (Hippophaë
rhamnoides L.) samples belonging to two major subspecies (sinensis and
rhamnoides) from Finland and China were analyzed as TMS derivatives by
gas chromatography-mass spectrometry after saponification of the oils.
The total sterol
contents in the seeds, the fresh pulp/peel, and the whole berries were
1200-1800, 240-400, and 340-520 mg/kg, respectively.
The corresponding values in the
extracted oils were 12-23, 10-29, and 13-33 g/kg. Sitosterol constituted
57-76 and 61-83%, respectively, of the seed and pulp/peel sterols. The
sterol content and composition showed little variation between
subspecies and collection sites. Different harvesting dates showed
significant effects on the levels of some sterols both in the seeds and
in the pulp/peel.
The sterol profiles obtained are
useful for characterizing sea buckthorn and detecting adulterations of
the valuable oils. The information provided by the present investigation
is also important for further chemical investigation of sea buckthorn
sterols and industrial utilization of the berries as a raw material of
Keywords: Berries; sea; buckthorn; harvesting time; seeds; sterols;
Baoru Yang,*† Riina M. Karlsson,†
Pentti H. Oksman,‡ and Heikki P. Kallio†
Department of Biochemistry and Food Chemistry and Department of
Chemistry, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2001, 49 (11), pp 5620–5629
Publication Date (Web): November 2, 2001
Copyright © 2001 American Chemical Society
* Corresponding author (telephone 358-2-3336843; fax
358-2-3336860; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
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What Are Phytosterols
Phytosterols are plant sterols with
structures related to cholesterol and which are capable of lowering
plasma cholesterol on consumption by humans. Elevated blood cholesterol
is one of the well established risk factors for coronary heart disease
and lowering this indicator can presumably impact heart disease
incidence (Thurnham 1999). Phytosterols are the major constituents of
the unsaponifiable fraction of sea buckthorn oils. The major phytosterol
in sea buckthorn oil is sitosterol (ß-sitosterol), with 5-avenasterol
second in quantitative importance. Other phytosterols are present in
relatively minor quantities. The total quantity of phytosterol is quite
high in sea buckthorn and may exceed soybean oil by 4–20 times.
Research done on beta sitosterol shows that it is a strong anti
inflammatory, can reduce cholesterol levels and supports prostate
health. Remember, phytosterols are not hormones. Rather, they are the
food for hormone production in the body. Research has found that because
phytosterols produce the prohormones DHEA and progesterone, a broad
spectrum of conditions can be addressed or prevented through its use.
These natural hormone precursors (DHEA and progesterone) made from
dioscorea are easily absorbed into the system and have the ability to
support the body’s production of hormones.
How do they work?
Plant sterols and stanols are thought to reduce the absorption of
cholesterol by our intestine . This reduction in absorption makes the
liver remove more harmful LDL cholesterol from our circulation, thereby
reducing the amount of LDL in the blood. It is believed that plant
sterols and stanols lower the total cholesterol level and the level of
harmful low density lipoproteins (LDL), but seem to have no effect on
the heart-friendly HDL cholesterol levels or triglyceride levels.