Benecol is a brand of cholesterol-lowering food products which contain a unique ingredient – plant stanol ester and is owned by the Finnish company, Raisio Group.
Plant stanols structurally resemble cholesterol, which is why they can interfere with cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. Reduced absorption of cholesterol results in reduced serum LDL cholesterol levels, and therefore reduced total cholesterol.
Research has shown that in just 2–3 weeks, a daily intake of 1.5–3.0 g of plant stanols found in Benecol products reduces LDL cholesterol by 7–12.5% in 2–3 weeks. This reduction is in addition to what can be achieved with other dietary changes and/or statin therapy.
Plant stanol ester is added to Benecol products to ensure an adequate intake of plant stanols to achieve the cholesterol-lowering benefit, as amounts consumed in the average diet are too low to effectively lower serum cholesterol. Plant stanols are added to Benecol foods as plant stanol ester, which is formed when plant stanols are esterified with vegetable oil fatty acids. Plant stanol ester is easily added to food products without compromising taste, and it ensures that the product lowers cholesterol effectively when consumed with a meal.