First Food with Cholesterol-lowering Claim Now Available in Canada

Health Canada allows claim typically associated with pharmaceutical products to be added to certain foods

TORONTO, June 10 /CNW/ - Canadian adults with elevated cholesterol can now go to their grocery store to purchase a food product shown to help lower cholesterol. For the first time, Health Canada has approved the sale of foods fortified with plant sterols and allowed claims to assist consumers to understand the role and function of sterols in their diet. With more than 40 per cent of Canadians aged 20 to 79 having an unhealthy level of total cholesterol, this provides a new option to support overall cholesterol management.

Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke. High cholesterol is a main risk factor for heart disease, and 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 first of a number of expected plant sterol-fortified food products, Becel pro.activ calorie-reduced margarine with plant sterols recently became available in major retailers, enabling the millions of Canadian adults with elevated cholesterol to take immediate steps to help lower their cholesterol. 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.

"Canadians are now more empowered than ever to help lower their cholesterol through an everyday food product, in the hopes of reducing their overall risk for heart disease," said Dr. Peter Jones, a nutrition researcher from the University of Manitoba who has studied plant sterols for 15 years. "Costs associated with managing chronic diseases like heart disease are among the biggest challenges facing this country. We need to be aggressive in bringing options to Canadians that will enable personal health decisions associated with significant public health implications."

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.

Experts agree that just 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.

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.

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.

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For further information: For further information: Margaret McKellar, Unilever, (416) 963-4027; Sarah Bannoff, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 ext. 318

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