Benecol® products are targeted to individuals who want to lower their serum cholesterol levels by dietary means. Every Benecol-labeled product contains enough Plant stanol ester for efficient cholesterol lowering. This effect has been widely demonstrated when Plant stanol ester containing food products are consumed daily in the amounts advised on the packaging.

Every new type of Benecol product is clinically tested to ensure the cholesterol lowering effect of Plant stanol ester in the new food matrix.

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Adding Plant stanol esters to different kinds of food

Plant stanol ester has typical fat-properties and therefore all foods containing edible oils and fats are potential candidates for Plant stanol ester enrichment. Plant stanol ester can also be added to the food products that naturally contain stabilizers or emulsifiers. Plant stanol ester can also be used in drinks or low-fat foods.

Plant stanol ester in Benecol® products is a fatty acid ester of naturally-occurring plant stanols, such as sitostanol or campestanol, while the fatty acids originates from different food grade vegetable oils.

Adding Plant stanol ester to the end product does not require any special machinery, but the same processing equipment can be used for manufacturing a Plant stanol ester-enriched product or a standard product.

Plant stanol ester has the following physical properties:
• Fat-like with a waxy texture
• Creamy white color in the solid form
• Viscous clear liquid with a bright yellow color, bland odor and taste
• Insoluble in water and soluble in fat (hydrophobic)
• Viscosity higher than that of the triglyceride oil with the same fatty acid composition.

The higher viscosity of Plant stanol ester (compared with standard oils and fats) must be taken into account when adding the ingredient into a food matrix. Effective mixing may be required to achieve a homogeneous mixture or emulsion.

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Plant stanol ester in spreads

Plant stanol ester can be used to replace saturated and trans-unsaturated hard fat in spread-type food applications. This replacement typically results in a 45% reduction in the saturated fat content of the spread, but only a 5-10% reduction in the beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Also the energy content of spreads enriched with Plant stanol ester is typically lower than that of corresponding conventional spreads. This is because the plant stanol part, which represents 60% of the plant stanol ester molecule, cannot be utilized for energy production by the human body.

One of the nutritional benefits of Benecol spreads is that the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids can be increased significantly in the final product. Thus, the overall cholesterol lowering effect of Benecol spreads is due to a combination of the healthier fatty acid profile of the product and the reduced cholesterol absorption.

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Plant stanol ester in low-fat foods, dairy and non-dairy foods

Low-fat dairy foods are gaining in popularity among the cholesterol lowering foods. Although yoghurt remains a commonly consumed product, yoghurt drinks have been the most popular version of new dairy Benecol products in recent years.

Plant stanol ester gives low-fat dairy products a creamy texture despite the very low fat content. Furthermore, the fatty acid profile of the products is improved, because the fatty acids of Plant stanol esters are derived from vegetable oils.

Different soy- and cereal-based non-dairy alternatives are also potential platforms for Benecol products and gaining popularity especially in the USA, Asia and Central Europe due to their heart health attributes. Plant stanol ester can be added to these foods using a technology similar to that used in the dairy industry. Plant stanol ester has an additional benefit in soy and cereal food applications because it can mask some of the off-flavor these foods may have. Furthermore, Plant stanol ester can mask bitterness so, when added to soy products, less sugar or artificial sweetener is required to achieve a more pleasant taste and mouth feeling.

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Cereal foods and pasta

Cereal foods, especially those rich in soluble fibre, are widely acknowledged to be part of a healthy heart diet. Different types of cereal foods, such as breakfast cereals or muesli, are other potential Benecol applications.

Beverages and other low-fat applications

Beverages are a convenient way for consumers to consume effective quantities of Plant stanol ester. Although Plant stanol ester has typically been associated with fat-containing foods, the ingredient can easily be incorporated into beverages and low-fat or fat-free foods.

Oxidative and processing stability of Plant stanol ester

Under normal storage and food preparation conditions, Plant stanol ester is very stable because it is more resistant to oxidation than the commonly used vegetable oils.

Using Plant stanol ester in food applications instead of conventional fats does not decrease the shelf life of the products. As is the case for all fats and oils, Plant stanol ester should be protected from heat, air and light to prevent oxidation. If long-term storage is required, Plant stanol ester is typically refrigerated in solid form. Furthermore, antioxidants can be added to Plant stanol ester products similarly as they are used in other oils or fats.