Background: Plant-sterol-enriched spreads lower LDL cholesterol but may also lower lipid-standardized carotenoids.
Objective: Our objective was to assess whether advice to consume specific daily amounts of foods high in carotenoids prevents a reduction in plasma carotenoid concentrations in subjects who consume plant sterol or stanol esters.
Design: Forty-six hypercholesterolemic free-living subjects completed a 3-way, double-blind, randomized crossover comparison. Subjects consumed each of the following 3 spreads (25 g/d) for 3 wk: control-1 (sterol-free), sterol ester-1 (2.3 g plant sterol esters), and stanol ester-1 (2.5 g plant stanol esters). During the 3-wk interventions, subjects were advised to eat > or =5 servings of vegetables and fruit/d, of which > or =1 serving was to be carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, apricots, spinach, or broccoli.
Results: The dietary advice resulted in a 13% increase in plasma beta-carotene in subjects who consumed control-1 (P = 0.04). The plasma beta-carotene concentrations of subjects who consumed control-1 did not differ significantly from those of subjects who consumed stanol ester-1 or sterol ester-1. This result was achieved by an increase of one daily serving of high-carotenoid vegetables or fruit. LDL cholesterol decreased 7.7% and 9.5% after consumption of sterol ester-1 and stanol ester-1, respectively (P < 0.001 for both), and differences between the LDL-cholesterol values obtained were not significant.
Conclusion: Dietary advice to consume an additional daily serving of a high-carotenoid vegetable or fruit when consuming spreads containing sterol or stanol esters maintains plasma carotenoid concentrations while lowering LDL-cholesterol concentrations significantly.