"Both consuming plant sterols and exercising have been shown to affect blood cholesterol levels on their own," said senior author McGill Professor of dietetics and nutrition, Peter Jones. "Our research is the first to look at the complementary combined effects of these therapies."
Seventy-four non-active individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 were recruited for the study. They were placed into the following four different intervention groups: combination (consumed margarine containing plant sterols and exercised), exercise (consumed plant-sterol -free margarine and exercised), sterol only (consumed margarine containing plant sterols and did not exercise) and control (consumed plant-sterol free margarine and did not exercise). Exercise involved using stair-stepping machines and stationary bicycles three times a week. Margarine was consumed four times a day. This regimen was continued for eight weeks, blood samples were taken and lipid analysis was performed.
"In comparison with plant sterols or exercise alone, the combination of plant sterols and exercise yielded the most beneficial change in the volunteer's cholesterol and lipid levels," said lead author and McGill doctoral student, Krista Varady. "This combination therapy favourably altered their lipid profiles by decreasing total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triacylglycerol levels and by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels."
"These findings suggest that combination therapy may improve the cholesterol and lipid levels in previously sedentary adults who have high cholestero
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