Plant stanols are cholesterol-like molecules found in all plant foods, with the highest concentrations occurring in vegetable oils. Plant stanols are plant equivalents of cholesterol and have a very similar molecular structure. According to their structure, they can be divided into sterols and stanols, with stanols being a saturated subgroup of sterols.
Benecol soft chew is a supplement developed by Vitux AS consisting of plant stanols. Plant stanols reduce both cholesterol and plant sterol levels in serum. Cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes in humans, and the liver is able to produce cholesterol from fats delivered in the diet. However, many food products consist of low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol. Eating too much LDL cholesterol increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Plant stanols interfere with the uptake of both dietary and biliary cholesterol from the intestinal tract in humans. In this way plant stanols help to reduce cholesterol levels and the risk for coronary heart disease.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has acknowledged the following beneficial effects as a basis for health claims:
• Plant stanol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease
• Plant stanols contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels