Consumers Duped By Cholesterol Claims 1

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18th August 2009, 04:00pm - Views: 858

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00.01am, 19 August 2009


With cholesterol levels in adult Australians remaining alarmingly high, it’s time that savvy Australians

based their food choices on the facts to ensure they get the cholesterol lowering benefits they need.

Many foods claim they are good for cholesterol, but these often fail to give the whole story about their

actual effect.  

Fifty percent of adult Australians are affected by high cholesterol levels (above 5.5mmol/L), a figure

that largely remains unchanged since 1980.


Accurate information about the most effective foods to

manage cholesterol is important if we are to improve this statistic.

Accredited Practicing Dietitian and best-selling author of the Australian Healthy Shopping Guide, and

the Australian Healthy Cooking Guide Caron Milham says it’s a case of buyer beware in the


“We need to look at the facts behind marketing claims to ensure the foods we buy deliver the health

benefits we want. We need to look beyond claims like ‘cholesterol free’ on some vegetable oils or

crisps as vegetable oils don’t actually contain cholesterol - only products with animal fat contain

cholesterol. Moreover, the amount of saturated fat in food affects blood cholesterol levels much more

than the amount of cholesterol it contains.

“Most people can lower their cholesterol by choosing an active lifestyle, achieving and maintaining a

healthy body weight, and eating better. This means eating less food high in saturated and, trans fats

and cholesterol and replacing some of these fats with foods high in polyunsaturated and

monounsaturated fats such as healthy oils, nuts and seeds.  It also means eating more vegetables,

fruits, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, oily fish or fish oil, and choosing reduced fat dairy

products and lean meats and poultry.

“In addition, plant sterol enriched foods, like some margarine spreads, and increasing foods high in

soluble fibre, like oats, legumes, fruit and vegetables can also help lower cholesterol absorption

because they prevent some of the cholesterol from being absorbed or reabsorbed. (This cholesterol is

from the food we eat and from bile produced by the liver.),” says Milham.

Oat products actively use cholesterol claims but don’t tell the whole story. Consumers need to know

eating three bowls of oat cereal a day will only give half the results of a one rounded tablespoon of

Flora pro-activ, a plant sterol enriched spread


. A more realistic one bowl a day will have even less of

an effect. While olive oil is a good oil rich in monounsaturated fats, when it comes to affecting

cholesterol absorption Flora pro-activ is 10 times more effective. Similarly fish, especially oily fish, is a

healthy food for the heart, however contrary to popular belief, fish has no effect on cholesterol. 

A recent review of food and cholesterol studies supports the effectiveness of plant sterols when

compared to other foods. The plant sterols in just 1 rounded tablespoon (25g) of Flora pro-activ a day


the amount typically spread on three slices of bread - lowers cholesterol absorption by 10% in 3

weeks on average, plus an additional 5% when moving to a healthy diet


. Other food such as oats,

almonds and olive oil don’t come close in comparison. The cholesterol absorption lowering power of

Flora pro-activ cannot be beaten by any other food. 

Media Release

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The effectiveness of plant sterols in combating cholesterol is also supported by the Heart Foundation

in their recent Position Statement on Dietary fats and dietary sterols for cardiovascular health



Despite this, there are plenty of misunderstandings about Flora pro-activ, says Accredited Nutritionist

for Flora, Brooke Sprott.

“People say you need to eat a lot of Flora pro-activ for it to work but the fact is a rounded tablespoon

(25g) is all you need to lower cholesterol absorption by 10% in 3 weeks on average, and up to 15% if

you improve the rest of your diet as well. 

It’s easy to eat this amount because Flora pro-activ is versatile. Flora pro-activ can be spread on

bread, toast or crispbread, melted over vegetables or used in baking as a much healthier alternative

to butter.”

“The other common belief is Flora pro-activ is expensive but it actually offers good value because it is

scientifically proven to work and only costs 50c a day.”

“When 1 in 2 adult Australians are affected by cholesterol, it’s important for consumers to know which

foods work best to get it down,” says Sprott.

-- ENDS –

Issued by Publicis Life Brands on behalf of Unilever Australasia.



Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). High blood cholesterol. Available at URL


15. Ripsin CM, Keenan JM, Jacobs DR, Elmer PJ, Welch RR, Van Horn L, Liu K, Turnbull WH, Thye FW, Kestin M, et al. Oat

products and lipid lowering. A meta-analysis. JAMA 1992; 267:3317-3325.


Demonty I, Ras RT, van der Knapp HCM, Duchateu G, Meijer L, Zock PL, Geleijnse JM, Trautwein EA. Continuous dose-

response relationship of the LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of phytosterol intake. Journal of Nutrition 2009. 139 (2): 271-284


Heart Foundation (Australia) Position statement Dietary fats and dietary sterols for cardiovascular health (2009). Available



For further information or to arrange an interview with Brooke Sprott, Nutritionist For Flora

please contact Publicis Life Brands: 

Emma Norgrove –, Ph: (02) 9436 2088, 

M: 0405 507 556

Natasha Ciesielski-, Ph: (02) 9436 2088, 

M: 0407 683 716

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