Staying healthy is the ultimate goal of most people. Yet, many of us have concerns or questions about heart health. With the help of the Benecol®, the expert brand in cholesterol lowering, this website provides key facts about heart health, and reveals how simple changes to diet and lifestyle can help us to boost heart health while keeping the life we love.

Benecol® is a brand of clinically-proven cholesterol lowering food products. These contain a unique natural ingredient, called Plant stanol ester. Supported by evidence from more than 70 studies, daily use of Benecol products effectively lowers blood cholesterol in only two to three weeks.

What do you want to know?

  1. Why heart health is important

    Keeping your heart healthy is vital for living life to the full. The good news is that simple diet and lifestyle changes can boost heart health, helping you to look and feel great.
  2. Tell me about cholesterol

    Almost four in ten adults have high blood cholesterol levels, putting their heart health at risk. Here, we look at simple changes that can be made to our diets and lifestyle to lower cholesterol.
  3. Tell me about the benefits of Benecol® foods

    A proven step to cholesterol reduction is to choose delicious Benecol® foods everyday. No other dietary change is simpler or more effective.

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Why heart health is important

A healthy heart is vital for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our whole body. By looking after your heart, you can enjoy a more active lifestyle, helping you to look and feel great. Not only that, your relationships and stress levels will benefit from a healthy heart, giving you space to live life your way.

What affects heart health? »

Most cases of premature heart disease could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes. These include lowering blood cholesterol, maintaining a healthy body weight, taking regular exercise, a healthy diet, having a good balance between work and play, avoiding smoking and making changes to what you eat.

Simple steps to a healthier heart »

 

Tell me about cholesterol

Having a high blood cholesterol level is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Globally, a third of heart disease is caused by high cholesterol but this is one of the easiest risk factors to tackle.

 

Cholesterol reference values
  European Guidlines * NCEP Guidlines**
Total cholesterol <5.0 mmol/l (190 mg/dl) <200mg/dl
LDL cholesterol <3.0 mmol/l (115 mg/dl) <100mg/dl
HDL cholesterol >1.0 mmol/l (40 mg/dl) male
>1.2 mmol/l (46 mg/dl) female
>40 mg/dl
Triglycerines <1.7 mmol/l (150 mk/dl) <150 mg/dl

 

* Fourth European Joint Task Force, Graham Eur J Cardio Prev Rehab 2007
** National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel 2002

LDL Cholesterol - known as “bad” cholesterol

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LDL Cholesterol is known as "bad" cholesterol - it's important to reduce this as much as possible .

LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When the level of LDL cholesterol in our blood is too high, the excess cholesterol can slowly accumulate in the walls of our arteries, making them narrower and less elastic. Over time this increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Along with other risk factors, our LDL cholesterol level can be used to predict the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. It is agreed by experts that levels of LDL cholesterol should be kept as low as possible.

HDL cholesterol - known as “good” cholesterol

C_Accord 11HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol - it performs useful functions to protect your heart.

HDL cholesterol is like a hard-working cleaner. It picks up cholesterol from the walls of our arteries and carries it back to the liver. Because it manages the bad (LDL) cholesterol, HDL cholesterol is considered to protect you from cardiovascular diseases. That's how we know that this "good" cholesterol is so valuable.

Total cholesterol - the measure of all cholesterol in the blood

C_Accord 10Total cholesterol is a measure of all cholesterol in the blood, mainly LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

The level of total cholesterol is often used to estimate our risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts now understand, however, that the LDL cholesterol level is much more informative when it comes to estimating your risk.

Triglycerides - energy sources and transporters of fat around the body

C_Accord 15Triglycerides play an important role as energy sources and transporters of fat around the body.

Most fats found in food and in the body are in the form of triglycerides. Blood triglycerides either come from the fats in our food or they are formed in the body from other nutrients like sugars. An elevated level of triglyceride in the blood is associated with cardiovascular diseases, which is why its level should be kept low.

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The World Health Organisation has calculated that even a small reduction in blood cholesterol could make a huge difference to heart disease risk. For a man aged 40 years, reducing blood cholesterol by just 10% can cut the risk of heart disease by half within 5 years.

And it's never too late to take action to lower your cholesterol levels. A 70 year old man could reduce his heart disease risk by one fifth by lowering his blood cholesterol by 10%.

Some countries have introduced successful cholesterol reduction programmes. In Finland (North Karelia project) and Ireland, nationwide programmes to reduce average cholesterol levels have resulted in significant decreases in heart disease. In Mauritius, cholesterol reduction was achieved largely by a government-led effort switching the main source of cooking oil from palm to soya bean oil.

 
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Why elevated cholesterol is harmful

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is naturally produced by the body. It is a vital building block of cell membranes (the protective covering of cells) and hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. About 80% of the body's cholesterol is produced by the liver, while the rest comes from our diets.

Cholesterol only becomes a problem when too much of it builds up in the blood, particularly the so-called 'bad' cholesterol, LDL. High levels of LDL cholesterol can encourage the development of plaques (or bulges) on the inside walls of arteries. When combined with other risk factors, such as excessive blood clotting and high blood pressure, this may lead to a heart attack.

Certain dietary and lifestyle factors promote high cholesterol levels. These include smoking, sedentary behaviour, obesity and diets high in saturated fats (those found in meat and dairy foods). Genes also influence cholesterol levels and some people have an inherited condition, called familial hypercholesterolemia, which promotes excess blood cholesterol.

Reducing cholesterol, particularly the harmful LDL cholesterol, can significantly reduce a person's chances of developing heart disease. Even if you already have heart disease, lowering your cholesterol level is an important way to stay healthy.

 

How do I lower my blood cholesterol?

Eat a healthy balanced diet

C_Accord 04Experts agree that the best diet for lowering cholesterol is one that limits the amount and type of fats eaten. That means you should eat less butter, cream, lard, fatty meats and meat products, cheese and pastry as these are all rich in saturated fat (the type that promotes cholesterol). However, you can switch to healthier types of fats, such as sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, soft margarines and olive oil, and try to eat more oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna) and nuts. Foods rich in dietary cholesterol, such as prawns and eggs, actually have little impact on blood cholesterol so you don't need to avoid them. Other helpful dietary changes include boosting intakes of fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, wholegrain foods and fat-free milk.

Consume Benecol® products

Consume benecolBenecol® products contain a special ingredient, called Plant stanol ester, that is proven in more than 70 clinical studies to reduce cholesterol effectively in 2-3 weeks. Benecol products are delicious and easy to consume. To find out more, visit the websites of our partners.

Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily

C_Accord 02All types of physical activity count towards the recommended 30 minutes on most days of the week. The best advice is to find an activity that you enjoy and which you can do on a regular basis. This could be walking, swimming, gardening, running or cycling. If you are unused to exercise, build up the time and level of exertion over a number of weeks. Exercising with friends and family is a great way to stay motivated. Exercise can also help with weight control.

Keep a healthy body weight

C_Accord 01Losing weight can have a beneficial impact on blood cholesterol. If you are overweight, aim to lose 0.5 to 1 kg (1-2 lbs) per week by following a sensible, balanced eating plan. Your doctor or nutritionist will be able to help you.

Benecol® products can be included alongside any type of diet.

Stop smoking

C_Accord 07Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best way to stop smoking.

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Tell me about the benefits of Benecol® products

Benecol® is a brand of clinically-proven cholesterol lowering products. These contain a unique natural ingredient, called Plant stanol ester. Supported by evidence from more than 70 studies, daily use of Benecol products lowers blood cholesterol effectively in only two to three weeks.

Natural and effective

Plant stanol ester was one of the first functional ingredients to get a coveted health claim in Europe. These are allowed to mention reduction of a risk factor in the development of disease. The approved claim makes Benecol® one of the most trusted products for people who want to lower their cholesterol. Safety is also assured.

The Plant stanol ester ingredient is made from plant stanols and vegetable oil. Plant stanols occur naturally in certain foods, such as oats, rye, kiwi fruit and blueberries, but the levels we get from our normal daily diet are too low to be effective for cholesterol lowering. By the end of the 1980s, scientists at Raisio, a Finnish food company, discovered a way of concentrating the plant stanols and creating an ingredient that could be added easily to a wide range of delicious products.

Benecol® since 1995 »

 

 

Consumers testimonials

 

Benecol products available in almost 30 countries

Benecol® products are now available in almost 30 countries around the world where they are manufactured by well-established local food companies. This ensures that each country offers Benecol products that meet local needs. However, consumers can be assured that every Benecol product contains the special patented Finnish ingredient, Plant stanol ester.

  • Benecol Belgium

  • Benecol Finland

  • Benecol Romania

  • Benecol Romania

  • Hearti Benecol Thailand

  • Hearti Benecol Thailand

  • Benecol Finland

  • Benecol Finland

  • Benecol Finland

  • Kaiku Benecol Spain

  • Kaiku Benecol Spain

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Plant stanol ester - the wonder ingredient

Plant stanol ester, the special ingredient in Benecol® products, is made from plant stanols and vegetable oils. Plant stanols are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, and vegetable oils. However, they couldn't be added into food products without influencing the mouth-feel or taste. Finnish scientists at Raisio, a Finnish food company, overcame this problem by mixing plant stanols with vegetable oil. This created a smoother ingredient which could be added easily to a range of food products without affecting flavour or texture.

The heart health properties of plants have been known for a long time. Now, Benecol products are backed up by more than 70 clinical studies showing that Plant stanol ester lowers cholesterol effectively in two to three weeks. This is why the European Parliament gave Plant stanol ester the special honour of Approved Health Claim status.

 
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How does it work?

Our bodies naturally make cholesterol and this represents around 80% of the cholesterol found in our blood. Certain foods we eat also contain cholesterol. The digestive tract is where some of this cholesterol gets recycled back into the bloodstream. Plant stanol ester works by safely blocking the uptake of cholesterol from our digestive tract. This means that far less cholesterol gets into the blood.

It doesn't matter whether the cholesterol is from your food, or made in your body, the effect is the same. And because Plant stanol ester is not absorbed by the body, it is safe to use, even in the long-term.

The cholesterol-lowering benefits of Plant stanol ester were recognised in 2009 as one of the 10 greatest discoveries in nutrition by an expert panel of international nutrition scientists.

Recommended and safe

Plant stanol ester has gone through extensive testing to prove its efficacy and safety. This has resulted in endorsements from many food safety authorities around the world including Europe, the US, Japan, China, Australia and Russia. Plant stanol ester has been awarded an Approved Health Claim, by the European Parliament and Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in USA. In addition, Benecol® products have been on the market since 1995 with no reports of adverse effects.

Many national health organisations now recommend that consumers include 2g of plant stanols per day in their diets for cholesterol reduction.

 

Make a start today

There are many Benecol® products available around the world. Vegetable oil margarines or spreads and yoghurt drinks are good examples of these. Click here to find out which Benecol products are available in your country.