Becel Launches First Food Fortified with Plant Sterols in Canada

Plant sterols in new Becel pro.activ calorie-reduced margarine help to lower cholesterol up to 15 per cent starting within three weeks when combined with the move to a healthy diet

TORONTO, June 1 /CNW/ - Becel today announced the launch of new Becel pro.activ calorie-reduced margarine with plant sterols, the first food product available in Canada fortified with cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. Becel pro.activ contains plant sterols which help to lower cholesterol in adults up to 15 per cent starting within three weeks when combined with a move to a healthy diet. Plant sterols are naturally occurring substances found in everyday foods like fruits and vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts and grains.

"Plant sterols have been recognized for their cholesterol-lowering properties for decades and are available in Becel pro.activ foods in 30 countries worldwide," said Christopher Luxon, president and CEO, Unilever Canada, makers of Becel. "Now, Canadians can take advantage of this simple way to help lower their cholesterol by adding Becel pro.activ to a heart healthy diet and lifestyle."

Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke. High cholesterol is known to be one of the main risk factors for heart disease. More than 40 per cent of Canadians aged 20 to 79 have an unhealthy level of cholesterol. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, a one point reduction in total cholesterol can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 25 per cent.

"The addition of plant sterols to food products is a significant dietary advancement for Canadians," said Dr. Greg Curnew, Associate Clinical Professor, Divisions of Cardiology and General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, McMaster University. "We know that heart disease and stroke is the number one cause of death in Canada. Along with a healthy diet and daily exercise, it's encouraging for Canadians to have a new tool like plant sterol-fortified foods that can help reduce one of the main risk factors for heart disease."

About Plant Sterols

Plant sterols occur naturally in a variety of everyday foods like vegetable oils, nuts, grain products, fruits and vegetables, and have always been part of the human diet. Plant sterols exert their effect by partly blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels.

More than 180 clinical studies have proven that the plant sterol ingredient in Becel pro.activ significantly lowers cholesterol.

"Even though plant sterols can be and are eaten as part of a healthy diet, it's challenging for Canadians to consume enough plant sterols to lower their cholesterol," said Dr. Peter Jones, an expert on plant sterols. "In fact, to match the two grams of plant sterols provided in five teaspoons of Becel pro.activ, one would have to consume, for example, 425 tomatoes or 70 slices of whole grain bread."

Experts agree that two grams of plant sterols is the daily amount shown to help lower cholesterol in adults, and the cholesterol-lowering benefits are sustained with regular daily consumption.

From Science to Plate: An Effective Way to Lower Cholesterol

A long history of consumption and extensive research supports the use of foods fortified with plant sterols as an effective way to lower cholesterol. The addition of plant sterols to foods in specified amounts has been approved by many regulatory bodies around the world, including Health Canada, the US FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Foods fortified with plant sterols are available in countries around the world, including the United States, members of the European Union, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Israel, Iceland and Japan.

The cholesterol-lowering effect of plant sterols in Becel pro.activ has been shown in numerous clinical studies. Foods fortified with plant sterols are approved by Health Canada and are recommended by leading health organizations, including the American Heart Association and the International Atherosclerosis Society.

"Foods fortified with plant sterols are an exciting development for any Canadian concerned about cholesterol and heart disease," said Mr. Luxon. "At Unilever, we will continue our research in this area, and engage in ongoing education for healthcare professionals, as the use of these food products is an important step forward in promoting a heart healthy lifestyle."

About Becel pro.activ

Two teaspoons (10 grams) of Becel pro.activ provides 40 per cent of the daily amount of plant sterols shown to help lower cholesterol in adults.

Here is an example of how Becel pro.activ can easily fit into a heart healthy diet:

    
    -   Breakfast: 2 tsp (10 g) on whole grain toast or a whole grain bagel,
        provides 0.8 g plant sterols
    -   Lunch: 2 tsp (10 g) on whole grain sandwich bread or a whole grain
        bun, provides 0.8 g plant sterols
    -   Dinner: 1 tsp (5 g) on steamed vegetables or a baked potato, provides
        0.4 g plant sterols
    

Total plant sterols: 2 g per day.

Becel pro.activ is available in Canada where Becel products are sold. While retailers set prices, it is anticipated that a 227 g container of Becel pro.activ will be priced approximately at $5.49 to $5.89. More information about Becel pro.activ and plant sterols can be found at www.loveyourheart.ca/proactiv

About Becel

Becel margarine was created in the 1960's as a response to the call from Dutch physicians for a heart healthier alternative to butter and animal fats. Since then, Becel has remained dedicated to educating Canadians about the importance of heart healthy living, including launching the first food fortified with plant sterols in Canada. Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer products companies, adds vitality to life by meeting everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care. Every day, 160 million people choose Unilever brands to feed their families and to clean themselves and their families.

Video News Release will be available via satellite on Tuesday June 1, 2010 at

    
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Video News Release also available via download Tuesday, June 1, 2010:

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SOURCE BECEL UNILEVER

For further information: For further information: including product images, please contact: Camille Kowalewski, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 x252, Camille.kowalewski@edelman.com; Sarah Bannoff, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 x 318, Sarah.bannoff@edelman.com

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