Cholesterol lowering in food questionable

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Margarine questionable against high cholesterol

The food industry has been promoting health-promoting, functional foods for years. For example, some food companies offer margarine or "healthy yogurts" with plant sterols, which are said to lower cholesterol and protect the cardiovascular system. Health experts and scientists question the supposed health benefits of the plant substance in "functional foods". In order to actually have an effect, people would have to consume tons of plant substances. These huge amounts in turn produce enormous health risks.

Not only no benefit, but also health hazards Plant sterols or phytosterols, which are used to enrich various foods such as margarine or dairy products, not only have no proven benefits for heart health, but could even have negative consequences. Scientists at the 77th Annual Meeting of the German Society for Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research (DGK) called for more scientific studies on the effectiveness and safety of these substances enriched in food. One reason for the scientists' doubts about the usefulness of foods fortified with plant sterols is that there is no evidence that the possible cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols provide measurable benefits for heart health. "Statins inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, the speed-determining enzyme of the body's own cholesterol synthesis in the liver and thereby lower cholesterol in the blood." Although larger studies have shown the effectiveness of statins in relation to the risk of cardiovascular disease a positive effect proven, however, no reliable study results are available for the concept of "cholesterol absorption inhibition through food supplementation with phytosterols", as Dr. Oliver Weingärtner from Saarland University, Homburg / Saar reports. "In contrast, there are no reliable study results available for the concept of cholesterol absorption inhibition by food supplementation with phytosterols, which prove the effectiveness with regard to patient-relevant clinical endpoints such as stroke or heart attack risk."

Doubts about the dose There are clear doubts about the dose. In order to have a positive effect, consumers would need to consume two grams or more of sterols a day in order to reduce cholesterol levels by ten percent. "To achieve this through fruit and vegetables, for example, 425 tomatoes, 150 apples or 11 cups of peanuts would have to be consumed per day," said Dr. Vineyard worker. If so-called functional foods were now enriched with such an amount, this would not correspond to the approach of a "healthy diet", says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Laufs (Saarland University, Homburg / Saar): "Then it is a measure that is comparable to a medication, and you have to be careful with it."

Health hazards due to deposits A health hazard is very likely to exist because a number of scientific studies have provided information that phytosterols that are deposited in the body may even have negative effects on the heart and blood vessels. An animal experiment showed that plant substances permanently accumulate in the brain. "Because of the indications of risks and the lack of proof of a positive effect, further data on efficacy and safety are required before recommending foods with phytosterols," said Dr. Vineyard worker.

Scientists at the Leipzig University Hospital had also recently taken caution when it comes to functional foods, since phytosterols are a health hazard for a proportion of the population that should not be underestimated. A study had shown that there is a connection between the transport of plant sterols and possible s. People with a certain genetic predisposition are less able to excrete vegetable fats. This increases the sterol level in the body and increases the risk of a heart attack. According to research results, people with blood groups A, B and AB tend to have an elevated sterol level. (sb)

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Image: Claudia Hautumm /

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Video: Lower Your TRIGLYCERIDES Naturally - 2020


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