Background: Plant sterol esters reduce cholesterol absorption and lower circulating blood cholesterol concentrations when incorporated into the habitual diet.
Objective: This randomized, double-blind, 3-group parallel, controlled study evaluated the influence of esterified plant sterols on serum lipid concentrations in adults with mild-to-moderate primary hypercholesterolemia.
Design: Subjects incorporated a conventional 50%-fat spread into a National Cholesterol Education Program Step I diet for a 4-wk lead-in period, followed by a 5-wk intervention period of the diet plus either a control reduced-fat spread (40% fat; n = 92) or a reduced-fat spread enriched with plant sterol esters to achieve intakes of 1.1 g/d (n = 92; low-sterol group) or 2.2 g/d (n = 40; high-sterol group).
Results: Subjects in the low- and high-sterol groups who consumed > or = 80% of the scheduled servings (per-protocol analyses) had total cholesterol values that were 5.2% and 6.6% lower, LDL-cholesterol values that were 7.6% and 8.1% lower, apolipoprotein B values that were 6.2% and 8.4% lower, and ratios of total to HDL cholesterol that were 5.9% and 8.1% lower, respectively, than values for the control group (P < 0.001 for all). Additionally, triacylglycerol concentrations decreased by 10.4% in the high-sterol group. Serum concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids were generally within reference ranges at baseline and postintervention. Serum plant sterol concentrations increased from baseline (0.48% of total sterol by wt) to 0.64% and 0.71% by wt for the low- and high-sterol groups, respectively (P < 0.05 compared with control).
Conclusion: A reduced-fat spread containing plant sterol esters incorporated into a low-fat diet is a beneficial adjunct in the dietary management of hypercholesterolemia.