Foods that do you good

Can you eat yourself fitter? By Hayley Birch

Functional foods such as probiotic yoghurts are those that provide some kind of enhanced nutritional value. In the case of spreads for bread that contain plant sterols or stanols, they are proven to lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Plant sterols are natural steroid compounds found in plants that are thought to work in several ways, including by lowering cholesterol absorption by the gut. They can be consumed in fruit, vegetables and other plant foods, but people with high cholesterol sometimes eat fortified spreads, yoghurts and milk as well.

Canadian studies published in the 2000s suggest that people who eat these cholesterol-lowering foods achieve about the same decrease in blood LDL cholesterol as those who take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

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About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Fat’ in December 2015.

Medicine, Health, infection and disease
Fat, Food and Diet
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development