In the wake of evidence that indicates sterol esters and plant stanol esters may reduce a person?s risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels, researchers at the University of California ? Davis say consuming ?phytosterol-enriched? cocoa-flavored snack bars as part of a balanced diet can help manage cholesterol.
Many food products containing plant sterols are now commercially available, including enriched margarines, milk and orange juice. The purpose of this study was to evaluate ?alternative dietary means? to lower blood cholesterol ?before prescribing pharmacological treatment.?
Participants in the study were divided into two groups of adult men and women with blood cholesterol levels over 200. One group of 32 consumed two cocoa snack bars enriched with plant sterols per day for six weeks, and the other group of 35 people consumed snack bars that were not enriched. The researchers found what they termed significant reductions of 4.7 percent in total cholesterol and 6 percent in LDL-cholesterol levels in the group that consumed the flavanol-enriched snack bar with plant sterols.
?The data suggests the incorporation of this snack food into a balanced diet represents a practical dietary strategy in the management of cholesterol,? the researchers write.
The study was funded in part by Masterfoods USA, a division of Mars Incorporated.