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When you’re new to the idea of lowering cholesterol, it’s natural to have plenty of questions, particularly about the kind of foods that might help you on your way to desirable levels. Here at ProActiv, we’re always happy to share our knowledge – so we’ve put together a handy Q&A about cholesterol, our brand, and healthy eating in general to help you find the answers you need.

FAQs on ProActiv and cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that our bodies use for a range of different and important processes. However, too much of the “bad” kind of cholesterol in the blood is a risk factor of coronary heart disease*. You can find out more about this in our guide here.

What is ProActiv?

ProActiv is a range of foods and drinks that contain added plant sterols, which are proven to lower cholesterol levels*. ProActiv products include delicious spreads (in Buttery, Olive, and Light varieties), mini drinks (in four different flavours), and a skimmed milk drink. You can browse the range here.

Does ProActiv work?

So, does ProActiv lower cholesterol? Yes – over 50 clinical studies have proven the efficacy of the plant sterols in ProActiv products. A daily intake of between 1.5 and 2.4g of plant sterols lowers cholesterol by 7-10% in two to three weeks, when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet overall with enough fruit and vegetables*.

Where can I find ProActiv reviews?

If you’re interested in reading ProActiv spread reviews, or hearing from the people lowering cholesterol with the help of our skimmed milk drink or mini drinks, we’ve collected their stories right here on the site. Check them out here.

How does ProActiv work?

Plant sterols are similar in structure to cholesterol, which means that when we eat them, they compete for (and can partially inhibit) the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. This means that less cholesterol makes its way into the bloodstream*.

How much ProActiv should I eat if I want to lower cholesterol?

To get the recommended daily intake of 2g plant sterols, you can try three servings of ProActiv spread over the course of the day, which delivers 2.25g plant sterols.

  • 1 serving of ProActiv spread = two teaspoons (10g).

Can ProActiv lower cholesterol too much?

There are two different kinds of cholesterol – good and bad – and the plant sterols in ProActiv foods only lower the bad kind, LDL-cholesterol, which for most people should be below 3mmol/L with no recommended lower limit. So you don’t have to worry about lowering cholesterol too much by eating or drinking them.

Is ProActiv good for you?

If you’re trying to lower cholesterol, the plant sterols in ProActiv can help, and our foods and drinks are a simple, easy addition to a healthy and balanced diet*.

Plus, since ProActiv spreads are made with a rich blend of vegetable seed oils, they contain unsaturated fat, as well as plant sterols. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower cholesterol**, which is another reason why people sometimes choose ProActiv vs butter.

However, ProActiv products are not intended for people who do not need to lower their cholesterol, so if your levels aren’t elevated, you might like to try our sister brand, Flora.

Do plant sterols have side effects?

Plant sterols are already present naturally (in very small amounts) in a wide range of plant-based foods, including apples and tomatoes. The safety of eating plant sterols has been reviewed and confirmed by a number of regulatory bodies, including the European Food Safety Authority, and no harmful side effects of plant sterols have been found.

Who can eat ProActiv?

ProActiv foods are suitable for people with elevated cholesterol levels, including those with diabetes and vegetarians.

However, ProActiv is not recommended for children under five or women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, since these groups have different nutritional needs. People with homozygeous sitosterolaemia (a hereditary condition that affects the way your body handles sterols) should also avoid consuming foods with added plant sterols.

Are there plant sterol side effects for people using cholesterol lowering medication?

If you’re taking medication, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor before you start consuming foods with added plant sterols as part of your diet. That said, it’s been proven that plant sterols and cholesterol lowering medications like statins can be used together, and since the two approaches work in different ways, the results can be additive.

What is ProActiv made of?

The ingredients for individual ProActiv products can be found on the product pages here.

Does ProActiv contain palm oil?

No, ProActiv spreads do not contain palm oil. They are made with a blend of vegetable oils including rapeseed oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and linseed oil.

FAQs on healthy eating

If you’re trying to lower cholesterol, is butter good for you, or bad for you?

There are many reasons why people go back and forth on questions like “Is butter healthy?” and “Is margarine bad for you?”. From the perspective of those of us who are trying to lower cholesterol, it’s important to be aware that butter is a source of saturated fats, while soft margarines and other vegetable oil based soft spreads contain unsaturated fats. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower cholesterol**, which is why many people decide to swap butter for margarines or spreads.

Is margarine bad for your health?

No. Margarines, and other vegetable oil based soft spreads, aren’t bad for you.

The question of whether margarine is bad for you dates back to a time when margarines were made using a process that meant that they contained high amounts of trans fats, a type of “bad” fat that – it was discovered – can affect cholesterol levels. Once the impact of trans fats became clear, food manufacturers took action. These days, margarines and vegetable oil based soft spreads contain only small amounts of trans fat.

In fact, if you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels, these products can actually be a great option. Swapping saturated fat for unsaturated fat in the diet has been shown to lower cholesterol*, and since margarines and vegetable oil based spreads contain unsaturated fat, they make a good replacement for butter, which is high in saturated fat.

Is margarine plastic? I read an internet forum comment…

Margarines and vegetable oil based soft spreads are made with many of the same ingredients as butter – fats, oils, and dairy products – and are worlds away from plastic. They’re safe to eat, nutritious, and have been recommended by many health professionals as part of a heart-healthy for years.

So how did this urban myth get started? Well, it began with the question “Is margarine one molecule away from being plastic?”, which quickly turned into “Is margarine plastic?” and finally (and hilariously) into “margarine is plastic”.

Fortunately, it’s not true – plastics have a very different molecular structure to margarine. Even if they didn’t, one molecule makes a big difference: by the same argument, salt is one molecule away from chlorine gas.

The rumor started because, like margarine, plastic can be made using vegetable oils, although the process itself is quite different, and it’s far more common to use crude oils and natural gas to make plastics. Margarine itself isn’t a type of plastic.

If you have a question you’d like to ask us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – our contact page can be found here. And if you’d like to hear more from us about cholesterol, the ProActiv range, and healthy eating in general, sign up to our e-newsletter here.

**Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor of heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease, and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.