Sunday, 24 July 2011

Nutraceuticals: Plant Sterols

Plant sterols - great things eh?  I mean they lower cholesterol so they have just got to be good right?  Ignore the massive mark-up afforded the manufacturer for a minute and trust that the guys who manufacture and market this stuff have your interests at heart!  Call me a cynic but I am VERY unhappy at mass medicalisation of our lifestyle - from flouride in our water to various additives to our (processed) food.  It is hard to avoid all processed food, but there is one branch of processed food I try to give a wide berth...
  • "The range of industries rushing to cash in on these cholesterol-lowering additives exposes the catch in this pharmocological approach to food of course.  We are told that sterols and stanols are as effective as, if not more effective than, drugs, but compounds as potent as this are usually administered under the supervision of a doctor in controlled doses , for good reason.  Who will monitor the levels of those vitamins that sterols appear to compromise in the consumer who assumes that more might be better, and so buys sterols with everything?  Who has checked what the long-term effects of blocking absorption of cholesterol are?"
The above was taken from Felicity Lawrence's 'Eat Your Heart Out'.  The particular chapter from which I drew the quote above suggests that plant sterols are likely to manifest in a whole range of foods in the near future - from Coca Cola to baked goods and trail bars. 

Remember my caution to avoid food that can easily change its nutritional stripes, reflecting the nutritional fad of the moment?  Well it seems the margarine is no the only mainstream food-chameleon we have to worry about. 

The chapter finishes with this rather enlightened quote from Professor Michael Crawford "You abandon evolutionary nutritional principles at your peril".

Amen to that.

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