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Orange juice fortified with plant sterols found to lower 'bad' cholesterol in healthy volunteers

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Plant sterols -- recognized for their cholesterol-lowering power when added to margarines, salad dressings and other fats -- are just as effective in reducing low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol" levels, when added to orange juice, say researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.

The results, based on a 10-week study of 72 healthy volunteers with mildly elevated cholesterol levels, are published in the March 8 issue of the American Heart Association's journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (available online at http://www.atvbaha.org).

"Lowering LDL cholesterol is a well-accepted means of reducing the likelihood of heart disease," said Sridevi Devaraj, an assistant professor of pathology and investigator in the Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research at UC Davis Medical Center who led the sterol study. "Fortifying orange juice with plant sterols is an easy and effective way to boost a diet's LDL-fighting power in individuals with mildly elevated cholesterol levels.

"Fifty percent of Americans have mildly elevated cholesterol levels, defined as having a total cholesterol reading of more than 200 mg/dL. The inclusion of sterols in orange juice offers an important treatment option without increasing saturated fat and at the same time providing vitamin C, flavonoids and other essential nutrients."

The American Heart Association and National Cholesterol Education Program recommend a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in soluble fiber and plant sterols to help individuals reduce their risk of heart disease. Sterols are present in small quantities in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and legumes. Chemically similar to cholesterol, sterols are thought to lower LDL levels in the body by limiting absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. The UC Davis study
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Contact: Carole Gan
carole.gan@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9047
University of California, Davis - Health System
20-Feb-2004


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