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Healthy Heart Reports

Benecol, Take Control And Other Cholesterol-lowering Margarines

8137 1/6/03

You may have heard advertisements for margarines that help to lower cholesterol, such as Take Control, an extract from soy beans; or Benecol, a margarine made from wood pulp. These products contain stanol esters, chemicals produced by plants that look like cholesterol but are different enough so that your body can't absorb them (1).

Cholesterol is found only in living, moving creatures. Plants never contain cholesterol, but they do have stanols and sterols that have a similar chemical structures. Both block absorption of cholesterol in humans, with stanols far more effective than sterols. They have been shown to return blood cholesterol to normal in 50% of people with high cholesterol (3). Stanols do not affect blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamins A, E and D, but they do lower beta-carotene levels (4). No serious side effects have been reported.

No food or drug, by itself, prevents heart attacks. Stanol margarines will not correct an unhealthy diet. First eat a healthful diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. Even though studies show that these new margarines may lower cholesterol, some of them contain partiallly hydrogenated oils, which I always recommend that you avoid.

1) NB Cater. Historical and scientific basis for the development of plant stanol ester foods as cholesterol-lowering agents. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp S36-S44.

2) SD Turley. Dietary cholesterol and the mechanisms of cholesterol absorption. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp S29-S35.

3) TA Miettinen. Stanol esters in the treatment of hypercholesterolaemia. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp S50-S57.

4) J Plat, ENM vanOnselen, RP Mensink

Title Dietary plant stanol ester mixtures - Effects on safety parameters and erythrocyte membrane fatty acid composition in non-hypercholesterolaemic subjects. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp S58-S63.

5) A Andersson, B Karlstrom, R Mohsen, B Vessby. Cholesterol-lowering effects of a stanol ester-containing low-fat margarine used in conjunction with a strict lipid-lowering diet. European Heart Journal Supplements, 1999, Vol 1, Iss S, pp S80-S90.

Copyright 2003 www.DrMirkin.com
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

For more recipes, refer to the The Healthy Heart Miracle book.