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.Lead image:
- ‘Handbook of Nutrition and Food’ on plant sterols
- British Nutrition Foundation: Functional foods
- Assessment of the longer-term effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods in hypercholesterolemia (2006)
- Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants (2005)
- Heart UK: Plant sterols and stanols
- Washington Post: Fish oil pills – a $1.2 billion industry built, so far, on empty promises
- Foods that do you good PDF [PDF 85KB]