A recent report from Norway confirms that margarines made with plant sterols help lower high blood cholesterol levels.

More than 45 years ago, researchers showed that substituting polyunsaturated fats from plants for saturated fats in butter helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. But most plant oils are liquid, and most people like to smear solid margarine on bread and other foods, so manufacturers converted the liquid polyunsaturated oils from plants to partially hydrogenated oils that are solid and have a much longer shelf life. However, these solid margarines made from partially hydrogenated plant margarines raise blood cholesterol levels as much as butter does. Recently manufacturers found that plants contain a type of cholesterol called sterols that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from animal products, and use these sterols to make margarines that help to lower high blood cholesterol.

Serum cholesterol response to replacing butter with a new trans-free margarine in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 2001, Vol 11, Iss 5, pp 320-326. S Tonstad, EC Strom, CS Bergei, L Ose, B Christophersen. Tonstad S, Ulleval Hosp, N-0407 Oslo, NORWAY.

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