New cholesterol-lowering spreads contain unique, functional ingredients: plant stanol esters or plant sterol esters. Stanols and sterols are naturally present in small amounts in vegetables and plant oils. In fact, the average person consumes about 250 milligrams of plant stanols and sterols daily from many plant-based foods, not enough to lower blood cholesterol.
Naturally occurring plant stanols and sterols, however, can be modified and added to fat-containing foods. For example, butterlike spreads with plant sterol or stanol esters are promoted for their ability to lower LDL blood cholesterol by up to 14 percent; they don't affect HDLs. For a significant cholesterol-lowering effect, the health claim states that you need to consume two servings of a spread that contains plant stanol or sterol esters daily-with meals-as part of an eating plan that's low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Read the package label for the serving size.
These spreads offer cholesterol-lowering benefits to anyone. Research shows that people with elevated cholesterol levels benefit most. In fact, the 2001
National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health recommends the addition of 2 grams per day of stanols or sterols as part of the dietary management for high blood cholesterol levels. People on statin drug therapy can use these spreads for additional cholesterol-lowering as part of their healthful eating.
Two spreads-Take Control and Benecol-contain these unique dietary ingredients. Use them in food preparation, not only as a spread. Benecol regular spread (with plant stanol esters) can be used in cooking and baking without changing the flavor of food. Use it like any other margarine, substituting it equally for the fat, oil, or shortening in a recipe. A spread that contains plant sterols (Take Control) isn't recommended for baking or frying; use it in foods that aren't cooked.
The health claim for stanols and sterols can apply to spreads, salad dressings, snack bars, and soft-gel dietary supplements made with stanol and sterol esters. In the future, a broader array of foods may be approved as well.
. . . if using olive oil and canola oil in your food prep is healthful? Sure—if you substitute and take saturated fats away, too. Both oils are high in monounsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower blood cholesterol levels more than polyunsaturated fatty acids do. However, simply adding olive or canola oil to an already high-fat diet is not the point. These oils are still 100 percent fat, with about 120 calories per tablespoon. . . . what's the source of canola oil? The canola plant, developed from its close relation to the rapeseed plant, using traditional methods of plant breeding. Extracted from canola seeds, canola oil is very low in saturated fat, yet a great source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Canola oil differs from rapeseed oil (consumed in Europe and Asia) in a significant way. To clarify a mis-perception, canola oil is extremely low in erucic acid. While erucic acid hasn't been shown to affect human health, it's been linked to cardiac abnormalities in
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