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Benecol spread as marketed in Finland

Benecol is a brand of cholesterol-lowering food products owned by the Finnish company Raisio Group, which owns the trademark.

Raisio Group licenses the Benecol brand and sells the ingredient stanol ester to food companies around the world. The brand is licensed in more than 30 countries by local food companies such as Kaiku in Spain, Colanta in Colombia, Lotte in South Korea, Kalbe Nutritionals in Indonesia and Johnson & Johnson in the US.[1]

Effects on health[edit]

The European Commission approved the following statement regarding Benecol products: "Plant stanol esters have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. Blood cholesterol lowering may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease" but noted that "there are no studies demonstrating that plant stanol esters have an impact on population-based CHD morbidity and mortality rates".[2]

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of England and Wales similarly found that while "[t]here is evidence that foods containing plant sterols and stanols reduce cholesterol levels", the government body concludes that "there is not enough evidence at the moment that these products prevent cardiovascular disease."[3]

Effects on cholesterol[edit]

Benecol contains plant-based cholesterols such as plant stanols or sterols. This displaces cholesterol from micelles so less is absorbed in small intestine. However, plant-based cholesterols get pumped out of enterocyte cells so are not absorbed effectively.[4]

The European Commission has authorised that an LDL-cholesterol lowering effect of 7 - 10% can be achieved in 2–3 weeks by a daily intake of plant stanol esters equivalent to 1.5 – 2.4 g of plant stanols in an appropriate food.[2]

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes the role of plant stanols in lowering blood total and LDL cholesterol, and has authorized a “Health Claim Meeting Significant Scientific Agreement (SSA)” for use on certain foods to which plant stanols have been added. The following is the FDA model health claim, to which certain designated optional modifications may be made: “Foods containing at least 0.5g per serving of plant stanols eaten with meals or snacks for a daily total intake of 2g as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of Benecol buttery spread supplies 1 g of plant stanols."[5]

Consuming more than 3g of plant stanol per day is not recommended and Benecol foods may not be appropriate for pregnant or breast feeding women, and children under 5 years old.[6]

Two reviews confirm that plant stanol and sterol esters lower cholesterol levels.[7][8]

Benecol foods have been found as a way to reduce cholesterol[9] and they also can help lower cholesterol in people that are taking statins.[10] However, it is important that those already taking cholesterol lowering medication consult with their GP (Primary Care Physician) before embarking on dietary cholesterol programmes.

About the products[edit]

The first Benecol product was a spread that was brought to market in Finland in 1995. Since then, the product line has expanded to fat spreads, yogurts, yogurt drinks, cream cheese style spreads, milk and soy drinks, bread and oatmeal. The availability of different products varies in different countries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Food (2008-03-14). "Yearly results raise Raisio expectations". Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  2. ^ a b European Food Safety Authority (2008). "Plant Stanol Esters and Blood Cholesterol". p. 2. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  3. ^ Smith, Rebecca (2008-05-30). "Don't bother with foods that lower cholesterol". The Telegraph. London.
  4. ^ Vásquez-Trespalacios, Elsa M; Romero-Palacio, Johanna (6 August 2014). "Efficacy of yogurt drink with added plant stanol esters (Benecol®, Colanta) in reducing total and LDL cholesterol in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia: a randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial NCT01461798". Lipids in Health and Disease. 13 (1): 125. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-125. PMC 4283152. PMID 25099071.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Serving Guide, Benecol Website".
  7. ^ Law, M. (25 March 2000). "Plant sterol and stanol margarines and health". BMJ. 320 (7238): 861–864. doi:10.1136/bmj.320.7238.861. PMC 1070975. PMID 10903294.
  8. ^ Katan, Martijn B.; Grundy, Scott M.; Jones, Peter; Law, Malcolm; Miettinen, Tatu; Paoletti, Rodolfo (August 2003). "Efficacy and Safety of Plant Stanols and Sterols in the Management of Blood Cholesterol Levels". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 78 (8): 965–978. doi:10.4065/78.8.965. PMID 12911045.
  9. ^ Martikainen, Janne A.; Ottelin, Anne-Mari; Kiviniemi, Vesa; Gylling, Helena (28 August 2016). "Plant stanol esters are potentially cost-effective in the prevention of coronary heart disease in men: Bayesian modelling approach". European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation. 14 (2): 265–272. doi:10.1097/01.hjr.0000216550.74258.12. PMID 17446806.
  10. ^ Blair, Steven N; Capuzzi, David M; Gottlieb, Sidney O; Nguyen, Tu; Morgan, John M; Cater, Nilo B (July 2000). "Incremental reduction of serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol with the addition of plant stanol ester-containing spread to statin therapy". The American Journal of Cardiology. 86 (1): 46–52. doi:10.1016/S0002-9149(00)00976-0. PMID 10867091.

External links[edit]