Plant Sterol-Enriched Rye Bread Improve Cholesterol Levels

January 14, 2011

Finnish researchers trialed 68 subjects on fortified or non-fortified rye bread for four weeks.

A Finland-based study has brought convincing evidence to the use of functional foods with plant sterols for cholesterol management. Results of the study were published online at the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki assigned 68 subjects to randomized supplementation with plant sterol-enriched rye bread or regular rye bread (control) daily for four weeks. The active rye bread was fortified with 2 g of plant sterols for two weeks, followed by 4 g for the following two weeks. The control bread only received a doubling of fiber content for the second pair of weeks.

Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL; also known as “bad” cholesterol), and ratios of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL; also known as “good” cholesterol) were measured in each subject.

Patients were monitored for compliance by measurement of a rye fiber-derived biomarker in blood and by being assigned to food diaries.

Two weeks of supplementation with 2 g of plant sterols resulted in reductions of total, LDL, and total-to-HDL ratio by 5.1%, 8.1%, and 7.2%, respectively, compared to placebo. The following two weeks on 4 g of plant sterols provided similar reductions compared to placebo: 6.5%, 10.4%, and 3.7%.

“Rye bread enriched with 2–4 g/d of nonesterified plant sterols beneficially modifies cardiovascular lipid risk factors in normocholesterolemic subjects compared to controls,” concluded the researchers.