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Study Supports Natural Cholesterol Lowering Additives

The use of phytosterols as an additive in foods is becoming increasingly popular due to their cholesterol lowering properties. However, experts have warned that phytosterols may decrease levels of antioxidants and fat soluble vitamins in the body.

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

To determine if these plant fats are having negative effects on antioxidant levels in our body, researchers from Valencia, Spain recruited 40 people with high cholesterol levels. The results of the study are published in the December, 2009 edition of The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive 2 grams of phytosterol-enriched low-fat milk, or plain low-fat milk, for three months.

At the end of the study, the researchers observed a 6.4% reduction in total cholesterol levels among the participants receiving the phytosterol-enhanced milk.

Those participants also saw a 10% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and a 5% reduction in the ratio of apolipoprotein B to apolipoprotein A-I, which is a marker for coronary heart disease.

The researchers saw no reduction in overall antioxidant levels and no adverse affects among the participants taking the phytosterol.

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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