Eating margarine with Stanol lowers cholesterol by 10 percent

December 01, 1999

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A new study reports that eating three servings a day of a margarine-like spread containing a plant substance called stanol can reduce cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent. It also found no ill effects from using it.

More than 300 people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels participated in the multi-center study. Three groups ate margarines fortified with three different quantities of stanols, a plant product that inhibits absorption of cholesterol by the body. One group ate regular margarine. After eight weeks, all those who ate the fortified margarine lowered their total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C -- so called "bad cholesterol"). Those who ate the regular margarine had a slight increase in cholesterol levels.

The greatest reduction in the study -- 6 percent TC and 10 percent LDL-C -- was in the group which ate the spread containing one gram of stanol. This is the same quantity found in the product now on the market in the United States.

Tu Nguyen, M.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and principal investigator of the study, said "the results confirm that consumption of plant stanol-fortified foods is a useful tool for lowering serum cholesterol in the population."

Mayo Clinic

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