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Phytosterols May Reduce Cholesterol

Consuming more phytosterols may help significantly reduce cholesterol levels according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Agricultural University of Athens. The study was published in the February 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Phytosterols are the plant fats now being added to foods such as butter and salad dressings to help lower cholesterol.

For the study, the researchers recruited 108 people with metabolic syndrome between 30 and 65 years of age. The American Heart Association defines metabolic syndrome as having three or more of the following:

1. A waistline greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women

2. Good (HDL) cholesterol under 40mg/dL for men or 50mg/dL for women

3. Triglyceride levels over 150mg/dL

4. Blood pressure over 130/85mm Hg or the use of blood pressure medicine

5. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein

6. Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance

To test the effect of phytosterols, the participants were randomly assigned to receive yogurt mini-drinks with or without added sterols.

The researchers found that participants given the drink containing the phytosterols had a 20% reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 19% reduction in triglyceride levels. Similar findings were also found in a large review of over 80 studies conducted earlier this year by researchers from Unilever R&D.

These are very important findings because phytosterols are one of the main ingredients being utilized in the heart health market, rivaling omega-3s, beta-glucans, and soy protein.

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