New Study Supports The Cholesterol Lowering Effects of Pro.Activ Spreads

The everyday use of spreads enriched with plant sterols and stanols can help control cholesterol levels and thus help to reduce the risk of heart disease – a new study reveals.1

Researchers from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment found that people who regularly use plant sterol / stanol enriched spreads, such as FLORA PRO.ACTIV, over a five year period did not increase their cholesterol levels (as naturally occurs with age) while non-users did.1

Lead researcher Marion Wolfs described the results as ‘representative of what is happening in daily practice and therefore relevant for public health’. She added, “To our knowledge, this study is the first to present achieved effects of customary phytosterol and stanol enriched spread use. As such this conforms to the extensive database on efficacy of these ingredients in controlled trials”.

The study, published in the latest edition of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicity, used existing data from the Dutch Doetinchem cohort study.1 In this, more than 4,500 people were asked questions about their diet, including how much spread enriched with plant sterols or stanols they consumed daily, and blood samples were taken to determine their total and HDL cholesterol levels and the total and HDL ratio. 

The researchers found that the average daily consumption of spread enriched with plant sterols was 15g per day, 16g a day in men and 12g a day in women. As a result, the average intake of plant sterols was 1.3g a day – significantly lower than recommended. International guidelines2,3 support the intake of 2g of plant sterols a day for significant cholesterol lowering, this is equivalent to three portions of Flora pro.activ plant sterol enriched spreads, yogurts and / or milk drink, or one Flora pro.activ one a day mini yogurt drink.  Raised cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart attacks and a reduction of total cholesterol by 10% has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease by 12-20%.4

Anna Wheeler, Nutrition Manager for Flora pro.activ welcomed the new research; “This latest study further proves the cholesterol lowering effects of the Flora pro.activ product range, and adds to the wide evidence base confirming the efficacy of plant sterols.  The Flora pro.activ cholesterol-lowering range now includes low fat spreads, a milk drink, yogurts and one a day mini yogurt drinks, making it simple to incorporate into people’s daily diet”.

Studies show when including 2g of plant sterols daily in the form of Flora pro.activ foods, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels can be reduced by 10-15% within three weeks when moving to a healthy diet. Flora pro.activ, Europe’s leading plant sterol enriched food was launched in August 2000.

Elevated levels of total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol are major risk factors in the development of CHD, approximately 56% of coronary heart disease can be attributed to raised cholesterol.5


For further information contact:

Emily Bunting:                                               
Tel: 020 7331 5310                                           
Kate Sattelle:
Tel: 020 7331 5426

Notes to editors:

Flora pro.activ is a range of healthy everyday foods enriched with plant sterols proven to significantly lower cholesterol.
The Flora pro.activ cholesterol-lowering range includes spreads, milk drink, yogurt and one a day mini yogurt drinks. Flora pro.activ foods fit well into a healthy diet, making it easier to lower cholesterol
To reach the optimal intake of plant sterols you can choose to eat:
3 portions of Flora pro.activ foods – 1 portion is equivalent to:
Enough spread for 1-2 slices of bread (10 grams)
1 medium glass (250ml) of milk drink
1 pot (125ml) of yogurt
(each portion contains 0.75g of plant sterols per serving)


3 portions in one
1 Flora pro.activ one a day mini yogurt drink
(each mini-drink contains 2g of plant sterols).

For more information visit the Plant Sterol Information Service at


1 Marion Wolfs et al. (2006) Effectiveness of customary use of phytosterol / stanol enriched margarines on blood cholesterol lowering.   Food and Chemical Toxicology volume 44 issue 10. 
2 National Cholesterol Education Programme (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines (2003). JAOA 103: S1-S5.
3 International Atherosclerosis Society Executive Board (2003), Harmonised Clinical Guidelines on Prevention of Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease
4 Katan MB et al.  (2003) Efficacy and safety of plant stanols and sterols in the management of blood cholesterol levels.  Mayo Clin Proc 78: 965-978.
5 Mackay and Mensah.  (2004)  The atlas of heart disease and stroke.  World Health Organisation.

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