Background/Objectives: Dietary supplementation with 2.0-2.5 g per day of phytosterols (PS) is well known to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 10-15%. The most common form of PS-enriched food products are the fat (margarine) spreads. The predominant fat used in these spreads is either soybean/sunflower (SS) or rapeseed/canola (RC) oils. This study aimed to investigate whether the carrier fat is a determinant of the hypocholesterolaemic effects of PS-enriched spreads.
Methods: Four databases (Medline, Cochrane, Embase, Cinahl) were searched using relevant search terms. Published RCTs from 1990 investigating the effects of dietary PS intervention (≥1.5 g per day) on plasma total (TC) and LDL cholesterol were included. Duplicates (n=1177) were removed. Methodological quality of articles was assessed by two independent researchers using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Quality Criteria Checklist. Data extracted using standardised tool (PS dose, duration, sample size, spread fat type and lipids). Studies grouped by fat type; meta-analysis conducted.
Results: Of 1484 screened abstracts, a total of 16 RCTs (n=6 SS; n=10 RC) were included. 14 studies involved mild to moderate hypercholesterolaemic subjects, and two studies involved normocholesterolaemic subjects. TC significantly reduced by 6% and 8% in SS and RC studies (respectively; p<0.05 for both). LDL significantly reduced by 8% and 11% in SS and RC studies (respectively; p<0.05 for both).
Conclusions: The fat type used for the delivery of PS in fat spreads may be a determinant of the cholesterol-lowering property of PS.
Funding Source(s): N/A