Milk drinks that contain non-esterified plant sterols can significantly inhibit cholesterol absorption report researchers, testing the efficacy of the cholesterol-lowering ingredient when dissolved in milk.
The team from the Nestle Research Centre in Switzerland aimed to check whether the milk fat globule membrane components in milk drinks enhanced the absorption of cholesterol and made plant sterols less efficient.
They tested the cholesterol absorption inhibiting properties of non-esterified plant sterols, 'properly solubilized', in milks made partly with vegetable oil. Sixteen hypercholesterolemic adult men consumed milk containing 1.8g of non-esterified pure plant sterols daily and control milk, alternatively, during two six-day periods in a double blind cross over design.
During the trial, cholesterol absorption was evaluated from the ratio of plasma isotopic enrichment of cholesterol from oral intake over enrichment of cholesterol from intravenous injection.
They found that cholesterol absorption was reduced from about 70 per cent with the control milk to 40 per cent with milks containing plant sterols.
The results are published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, just as Swiss firm Emmi launches its Emmi Benecol drink on the market. Each bottle contains 2g of Raisio's cholesterol-lowering ingredient derived from plant stanols, said to lower LDL cholesterol by up to 15 per cent, and the overall cholesterol by about 10 per cent. The product is thought to be the first 'milk' to be able to lower cholesterol. Benecol does however differ from the sterol esters used in this study and by other firms such as Unilever in its pro.activ spread.