Background: Plant stanols have been recommended in combination with individualized dietary interventions to reduce plasma cholesterol concentrations. It is unclear whether plant stanols in combination with dietary guidance in patients already using optimal doses of statins will further reduce fasting and postprandial lipids compared with standard care.
Study design: This single-blind, randomized study investigated the effect of plant stanols in margarines, combined with a lipid-lowering dietary intervention, in patients already on lipid-lowering medications at maximal doses not reaching their target lipid levels. Nutrition education was based on the stages of change theory. The control group (which served as the standard care control group) was also taking optimal doses of statins. This group received a margarine without plant stanols and a leaflet with Dutch nutrition guidelines. Fasting lipids were measured once in venous samples and postprandial lipemia was assessed by self-measured triglycerides in an outpatient setting. All subjects were given a capillary triglyceride measuring device (Accutrend GCT, Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany) and were instructed to measure their capillary triglycerides at six fixed time-points throughout the day on three different days. The mean area under the triglyceride curve represented total daylong triglyceridemia, which has been shown to reflect postprandial triglyceridemia. Twenty patients were included, 11 in the intervention group and 9 in the control group.
Results: In the plant stanol group, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreased significantly by 15.6% compared with a reduction of only 7.7% in the control group. The daylong triglyceridemia was similar in both groups at the beginning and at the end of the study, and no change was observed by the intervention.
Conclusion: Intensive dietary intervention with addition of plant stanols results in clinically relevant reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients optimally treated with statins, compared with similar patients on statins receiving only standard care. The use of a plant stanol-enriched margarine did not decrease postprandial triglyceridemia in these patients.