Objectives: To determine the efficacy on plasma cholesterol-lowering of plant sterol esters or non-esterified stanols eaten within low-fat foods as well as margarine.
Design: Randomised, controlled, single-blind study with sterol esters and non-esterified plant stanols provided in breakfast cereal, bread and spreads. Study 1 comprised 12 weeks during which sterol esters (2.4 g) and stanol (2.4 g) -containing foods were eaten during 4 week test periods of cross-over design following a 4 week control food period. In Study 2, in a random order cross-over design, a 50% dairy fat spread with or without 2.4 g sterol esters daily was tested.
Subjects: Hypercholesterolaemic subjects; 22 in study 1 and 15 in study 2.
Main outcome measures: Plasma lipids, plasma sterols, plasma carotenoids and tocopherols.
Results: Study 1—median LDL cholesterol was reduced by the sterol esters (−13.6%; P<0.001 by ANOVA on ranks; P<0.05 by pairwise comparison) and by stanols (−8.3%; P=0.003, ANOVA and <0.05 pairwise comparison). With sterol esters plasma plant sterol levels rose (35% for sitosterol, 51% for campesterol; P<0.001); plasma lathosterol rose 20% (P=0.03), indicating compensatory increased cholesterol synthesis. With stanols, plasma sitosterol fell 22% (P=0.004), indicating less cholesterol absorption. None of the four carotenoids measured in plasma changed significantly. In study 2, median LDL cholesterol rose 6.5% with dairy spread and fell 12.2% with the sitosterol ester fortified spread (P=0.03 ANOVA and <5% pairwise comparison).
Conclusion: 1. Plant sterol esters and non-esterified stanols, two-thirds of which were incorporated into low-fat foods, contributed effectively to LDL cholesterol lowering, extending the range of potential foods. 2. The LDL cholesterol-raising effect of butter fat could be countered by including sterol esters. 3. Plasma carotenoids and tocopherols were not reduced in this study.
Sponsorship: Meadow Lea Foods, Australia.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001) 55, 1084–1090
We acknowledge the assistance of Dr Ron Bowrey, Donna Ross and Adam Mayne (from Meadow Lea Foods, Sydney), Sean Westcott (Uncle Toby's Company, Rutherglen, Victoria), and Greg Ponting (Milling & Baking, Goodman Fielder, Sydney) for preparing the test foods. We thank Mr Mark Mano and Mr Ben Brinkman for assistance in measuring plasma plant sterols.