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Plant stanols are effective lipid-lowerers says new European guidance

Plant stanols can cut LDL-C levels by up to 10% and should be considered as an option in the treatment of hyperlipidaemia, according to new guidance from the European Atherosclerosis Society published today.

The consensus statement – published in the journal Atherosclerosis – is being seen as an important boost for the use of ‘functional foods’.

The authors reviewed the available evidence on plant stanols/sterols and concluded: ‘When taken at 2g/day [they] cause significant inhibition of cholesterol absorption and lower LDL-C levels by between 8 and 10%.’

They conclude stanol-fortified foods can be considered:

– In patients with hyperlipidaemia who do not qualify for pharmacotherapy based on their cardiovascular risk.

– As an adjunct to pharmacotherapy in patients at high CV risk who do not reach LDL targets on statins- or who are intolerant of statins.

– In adults and children over six with familial hypercholesterolaemia.

One tablespoon of Benecol spread contains 0.5g of plant stanol and a bottle of stanol yoghurt drink contains 2g.

The consensus panel stresses there are no randomised, controlled clinical trials with hard end points to establish clinical benefit for plant stanols.

NICE lipid modification guidance – due to be updated this summer- currently recommends that patients should not routinely be advised to take plant sterols and stanols for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

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