403, 2019

Strategies for cardiovascular disease prevention using diet modification and changes to the current food environment

Diet, both in terms of quality of food and drink and amount of calories consumed has the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Food supplements are useful for some groups but eating a healthy diet is […]

2201, 2019

Raised LDL cholesterol is associated with increased cardiovascular disease mortality in individuals at low 10-year CVD risk

Raised low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is associated with increased cardiovascular disease mortality (CVD) in individuals at low 10-year CVD risk.

This large long-term study has shown that raised levels of LDL-C (and also non HDL-C) […]

2812, 2018

A low-fat spread enriched with plant sterols and fish omega-3 fatty acids significantly lowers triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol levels in healthy individuals who have moderately raised blood cholesterol

This study showed that consuming daily a low- fat spread with 2 g added plant sterols and 1 g fish omega-3 fatty acids over 4 weeks significantly lowers blood triglyceride (TG) and LDL-cholesterol levels. 

Consuming a […]

International Plant Sterols and Stanols Association (IPSSA)

Plant sterols and stanols are substances that are abundant in nature, generally found in plant based foods such as vegetable oils, grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Their properties in lowering blood cholesterol concentrations were identified as early as the 1950s and were initially used in early cholesterol-lowering medications. However, functional foods with added plant sterols or stanols have only been available since the 1990s. By that time, the significant cholesterol-lowering effect of such foods had been demonstrated through scientific research. Today, there is a range of food products including spreads and margarines, dairy products like milk and yoghurt produced by some of the world’s leading companies which are the members of IPSSA.

As evident from numerous scientific studies and meta-studies, a daily intake of 1.5-3.0 g/s plant sterols or stanols dose-dependently reduces blood LDL-cholesterol levels by 7-12.5% in a period of 2 – 3 weeks. For the exact magnitude of effects per intake of plant sterols and stanols on lowering blood levels of LDL-cholesterol, please see the EU Commission Regulation No 686/2014

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in the blood. It is mainly produced in the body; however, we also absorb cholesterol from foods such as meat, cheese, butter, and eggs. Cholesterol is transported around the blood in ‘vehicles’ called lipoproteins. The two main types of lipoproteins are LDL and HDL:

  • LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol. If there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can slowly build up in the arteries, making them narrower, which increases the risk of developing heart disease
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the ‘good’ type of cholesterol. It helps to remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and returns it to the liver where it is broken down and passed out of the body.

Cholesterol is essential for the normal function of the body at appropriate levels; however, increased concentrations of circulating LDL-cholesterol can become significantly harmful.

When there is too much LDL-cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of the arteries. Over time, this build-up causes “hardening of the arteries” so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen to the heart may cause chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, then the result is a heart attack.

A high blood LDL-cholesterol level itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important for the public to know what their cholesterol numbers are because lowering LDL-cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack . LDL-cholesterol lowering is important for everyone–younger, middle-aged, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death globally: more people die annually from cardiovascular diseases than from any other cause, while an estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2012, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.7 million were due to stroke

Cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease and ischaemic stroke is the leading cause of premature mortality and disability-adjusted life years in Europe resulting in over 4 million deaths each year. WHO Europe states that 80% of premature heart disease is preventable.

Furthermore, according to WHO, raised cholesterol increases the risks of heart disease and stroke. Globally, a third of ischemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol. Overall, raised cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths (4.5% of total) and 29.7 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs), or 2.0% of total DALYs

For more facts related to the risk developing cardiovascular disease also visit http://www.dietattheheart.com/cvd_risk 

There are many contributing risk factors to cardiovascular disease and it is important to take care of all modifiable risk factors so as to reduce overall risk.

Cardiovascular disease is often a result of an unhealthy lifestyle so a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, forms the basis for the prevention of this disease. A healthy lifestyle should ideally be followed throughout a person’s life but it is never too late to make recommendable changes. In early childhood, regular healthy diet and lifestyle choices are usually sufficient to keep blood LDL-cholesterol levels (a major risk factor) in order. If more effective measures are needed, however, foods with added plant sterols or stanols can well be included in the diet of the whole family, including children from the age of 5 years.

Following a healthy diet and lifestyle can help lower blood LDL-cholesterol which is an important risk factor in the development of heart disease.

Eating foods with added plant sterols or stanols is an effective way to lower blood LDL-cholesterol. Switching one’s diet to foods with added plant sterols or stanols can effectively contribute to lowering blood LDL-cholesterol. One way to achieve this is, for example, by switching the usual spreads (such as butter or margarine) or yoghurt for the spreads or yoghurt with added plant sterols and stanols. It is evident from scientific studies that the plant sterols and stanols in foods produced by IPSSA members are proven to actively lower blood LDL-cholesterol. A daily consumption of 1.5 – 3.0g of plant sterol or stanol can lower blood LDL-cholesterol by 7-12.5% in 2-3 weeks as part of the daily diet. P For the exact magnitude of effects per intake of plant sterols and stanols on lowering blood levels of LDL-cholesterol, please see the EU Commission Regulation No 686/2014. Plant sterols and stanols are approved by various food safety authorities around the world to be used in foods for blood LDL-cholesterol lowering.

Therefore, introducing foods with plant sterols and stanols can contribute to the reduction of risk for heart disease. However, the risk is reduced even more effectively when a diet rich with foods with plant sterols and stanols is part of a broader healthy and active lifestyle.

It is well established that elevated blood LDL-cholesterol is independently associated with atherosclerosis and increased risk of heart disease and the causal relationship between LDL-cholesterol and heart disease risk is supported by both epidemiological and interventional studies (ESC/EAS GuidelinesWilson et al). Furthermore, reducing blood LDL-cholesterol by dietary modification and drugs would generally reduce the risk of development of heart disease (Baigent et al; Hu & Willet) while lowering LDL-cholesterol irrespective of type of intervention lowers heard disease risk (Robinson et al). Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that a 10% lowering in LDL-cholesterol could lead to a 9% reduction in heart disease risk (Baigent et al and Mihaylova et al).

Visit our science & studies section to find more about the science and facts on the beneficial effect of plant sterols and stanols in reducing blood LDL-cholesterol levels.