High levels of cholesterol are believed to be bad for the heart. Increasing numbers of people in the western world now take statin drugs to help reduce the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in their bloodstream, as it can lead to blocked arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But a number of food ingredients are also believed to lower cholesterol levels, and thus contribute to heart health.
Plant sterols and stanols, also known as phytosterols and phytostanols, have been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the intestines. They occur naturally in several vegetable oils, notably sea buckthorn oil, corn oil and soy bean oil. These ingredients are commonly added to products such as margarines, yoghurts and breakfast cereals, and products that contain phytosterols are allowed to make this health claim:
Plant sterols have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol lowering may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Other ingredients are also believed to have a positive impact on heart health. The omega-3 oils eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. They are naturally present in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and herring.
Vitamin B1 is also thought to contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system and a health claim is permitted.
Health claims have been approved by both the UK and the US authorities for soy protein and also oat beta-glucans as a way of reducing high cholesterol in patients with high blood pressure.
A claim has also been authorised for the maintenance of normal blood pressure by potassium.
|Contributes to the normal function of the heart||EPA and DHA, vitamin B1|
|Has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease||Oat beta-glucan, plant sterols and plant stanol esters|