Background: Plant sterol (PS)-enriched foods have been shown to reduce plasma LDL-cholesterol concentrations. In most studies, however, PSs were incorporated into food products of high fat content.
Objective: We examined the effect of daily consumption of PS-supplemented low-fat fermented milk (FM) on the plasma lipid profile and on systemic oxidative stress in hypercholesterolemic subjects.
Design: Hypercholesterolemic subjects (LDL-cholesterol concentrations >or=130 and <or= 190 mg/dL; n = 194) consumed 2 low-fat portions of FM in the same meal daily for 6 wk. Subjects were randomly assigned to 2 groups: low-fat FM enriched with 0.8 g PS ester per portion or control FM. Plasma concentrations of lipids, oxidized LDL, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein were measured during the trial.
Results: Plasma LDL-cholesterol concentrations were reduced by 9.5% and 7.8% after 3 and 6 wk, respectively, in the 1.6-g/d PS group compared with the control group, whereas plasma triacylglycerol and HDL-cholesterol concentrations were not significantly affected. In addition, there were no significant changes in serum beta-carotene on normalization to LDL cholesterol during the study period in both groups, whereas plasma concentrations of oxidized LDL were reduced significantly in the PS group compared with the control group (-1.73 compared with 1.40 U/L, respectively; P < 0.05). Plasma sitosterol concentrations were increased by 35% (P < 0.001 compared with control); however, campesterol concentrations did not change during the study period.
Conclusion: Daily consumption of 1.6 g PS in low-fat FM efficiently lowers LDL cholesterol in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia without deleterious effects on biomarkers of oxidative stress.