Cholesterol-lowering effect of spreads enriched with microcrystalline plant sterols in hypercholesterolemic subjects

L. Christiansen, P. Lähteenmäki, M. Mannelin, Tuulikki Seppänen-Laakso, R. Hiltunen, J. Yliruusi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Plant sterols have been shown to reduce serum lipid concentrations. The effectiveness is highly dependent on the physical state of the plant sterols. By means of a new crystallizing method, plant sterols can be added into dietary fats and oils homogeneously. In this fat ingredient, plant sterols are in a microcrystalline form.

    Aims of the study: We investigated the cholesterol-lowering effect and possible side effects of vegetable oil-based spreads fortified with two different doses of microcrystalline plant sterols.

    Methods: This double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled study consisted of a 6-wk run-in and a 6-month experimental period. During the run-in period, all 155 hypercholesterolemic subjects received rapeseed oil-based control spread. In the beginning of the experimental period subjects were randomly assigned into one of three experimental groups. The control group continued to use control spread, and the two test groups used spreads with added plant sterols of either 1.5 g/d or 3.0 g/d. The subjects consumed test spreads as a part of their normal diet without any restrictions in lifestyle and diet.

    Results: Plasma total- and LDL-cholesterol concentrations were significantly reduced by 7.5–11.6 % (0.46–0.62 mmol/l) in groups consuming margarine enriched with free plant sterols, compared with the control group. The effects were similar between the two groups consuming either 1.5 g or 3.0 g plant sterols per day. No effect on HDL-cholesterol or triacylglycerol concentrations occurred. The test spreads did not induce any adverse effects in blood clinical chemistry, hematology or decreases in serum concentrations of lipid soluble vitamins.

    Conclusions: Microcrystalline plant sterols are effective in lowering serum total- and LDL-cholesterol concentrations without obvious side effects. The daily dose of 1.5 g plant sterols is enough to reach the maximum effect.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)66-73
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Plant sterols
    • Cholesterol
    • LDL-cholesterol
    • Crystalline form
    • Clinical study


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