An Australian study has shown margarines and spreads that advertise an ability to reduce cholesterol levels in consumers are not as effective as they claim to be.
They claim they can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 15 percent through the addition of plant-based sterol and stanol esters, which compete with cholesterol in the body and inhibit its reabsorption.
But the author of the paper, Sheila Doggrell, a Queensland biomedical writer and pharmacologist, has cast doubts to their claims, and said that the products are not necessary at all.
She argues that this figure represents only the very top of the cholesterol-reducing capabilities of these products and that under normal consumption conditions they are unlikely to achieve reductions of above 1.3 to 3.8 percent.
Under the same conditions, prescription treatments for abnormally high cholesterol were shown to reduce the cholesterol levels of participants by more than 20 percent.
"If you have a problem with high cholesterol you are wasting your money paying extra for cholesterol-reducing products," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying.
Dr Doggrell's advice is that the margarines and spreads on the market are simply not effective enough to make any difference to someone who has been diagnosed with abnormally high levels of cholesterol, and that the products provide no benefit to those whose cholesterol falls within the normal range.
High cholesterol is a main cause of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Australia.