Australia’s favourite breakfast cereal is now a whole lot healthier, thanks to UniSA researchers.
Weet-Bix is the first cereal product in Australia to include cholesterol-lowering plant sterols due to a joint project between Sanitarium and the University.
UniSA nutritionists Professor Peter Clifton and Associate Professor Jennifer Keogh from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences were commissioned by the cereal company to undertake a clinical trial involving 46 adults, testing the impact on cholesterol levels of introducing two grams of plant sterols to one serve of Weet-Bix.
The trial showed that the inclusion of plant sterols lowered LDL (or bad) cholesterol by up to nine per cent over a month, with men and daily cereal consumers reporting the greatest benefits.
The cholesterol-lowering Weet-Bix version, now sold on supermarket shelves, was indistinguishable from the original product.
The findings of the clinical trial have now been published in Foods, an international open access journal of food science.
Researchers say the average reduction in cholesterol – 5.6 per cent – could have significant cardiovascular benefits for Weet-Bix eaters over a long period of time.
Plant sterols, which are found in small quantities in grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, are known to naturally lower LDL cholesterol by reducing its absorption in the digestive system.
Assoc Prof Keogh says that working with industry can help translate research into positive health outcomes for the community.
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