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It’s vital for healthcare professionals to have access to the latest relevant information on cardiovascular health.

Here you’ll find the latest studies and reports, plus activity updates from Flora ProActiv. We update this information regularly, so you can be sure you’re on top of the latest cholesterol and diet news.

Plant Sterols and Cardiovascular Risk

Posted: 1 November 2015

Flora ProActiv have partnered with British Journal of Primary Care Nursing to publish an article on ‘Plant Sterols and Cardiovascular Risk’. To read the article and complete the quiz to gain 1 CPD point, please click here.

October is National Cholesterol Month

Posted: 1 October 2015

To mark National Cholesterol Month, HEART UK, The Cholesterol Charity, is launching the Great Cholesterol Challenge to help fund its vital work.

The Great Cholesterol Challenge encourages people to start a healthy habit and stick to it for the entire month – and get sponsored to do so. HEART UK is aiming to raise £50,000 through the challenge and a range of activities including sponsored cholesterol testing around major UK towns and cities throughout October.

Tanya Footman, Senior Nutrition & Health Manager at Flora ProActiv, said: “56% of adults in England have elevated cholesterol i, but 70% aren’t aware of their cholesterol level or its potential impact on their health ii, so this is a fantastic way to increase awareness and encourage people to adopt more heart healthy habits.

“There are lots of simple ways for you and your patients to start lowering your cholesterol, including incorporating Flora ProActiv into your daily diet as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit is a great place to begin and is completely free of charge.”

HEART UK Chief Executive, Ms Jules Payne, said: “After the summer people get busy and health habits can start to slip at this time of year, so why not get sponsored and get healthy before the Festive season?

“Whether it’s being more physically active, improving your diet, stopping smoking or increasing your intake of cholesterol busting foods, we want to encourage everyone to adopt a healthy habit and get sponsored for it to help us continue with our life saving work.”

To find out more and to see where you could get a free cholesterol test this October, visit or follow @heartukcharity on Twitter. Order your free Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit from Flora ProActiv.

Greater beneficial effect on reducing cholesterol by plant sterols – New European Commission regulation states

Posted: 1 September 2015

The low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) lowering effect of plant sterols and stanols has been reconfirmed by the European Commission. Through this authorisation, the EC authorities have confirmed the beneficial effect of plant sterols and plant stanols and state that foods that provide a daily intake of 2.5 to 3 g/d can have a cholesterol lowering effect of ‘10% to 12.5%’.i

The regulation, which is now published in the Official Journal of the European Union, has also confirmed what the EC had previously authorised; that intake of plant sterols or stanols from 1.5 to 2.4 g/d has an blood cholesterol lowering effect of between 7 to 10%. It takes two to three weeks for the cholesterol lowering effect to be obtained and continuous daily intake of plant sterols is needed to maintain the effect along with a healthy diet and lifestyle with sufficient fruit and vegetables.

Plant sterols and stanols work by partly blocking the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. This, in turn, reduces blood cholesterol. The efficacy of plant sterols and stanols in reducing cholesterol levels is supported by more than 120 human intervention studies, encompassing diverse global populations with different dietary habits.

Tanya Footman, Senior Nutrition & Health Manager at Flora ProActiv explains “When plant sterols or stanols are consumed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, this has been shown to reduce cholesterol. Including plant sterols or stanols in foods we eat every day enables people to easily include these in their diet.”

Further data shows raising plasma HDL cholesterol may not reduce heart disease risk

Posted: 1 August 2015

New data shows vitamin B3 (known as niacin; an organic compound used to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol) does not significantly lower risk of combined occlusive vascular events, such as coronary death and stroke.i

Additional studies are needed to further investigate the protective effect of HDL cholesterol and the current guidance remains for patients to achieve a balanced lipid profile to manage CHD risk,ii however, the data is the latest in a wave of new studies which challenge the concept that raising plasma HDL cholesterol will translate into reductions in risk of heart attack.

Data from a large-scale, genetic epidemiological study of 116,320 subjects published in The Lancetiii strongly suggest plasma HDL cholesterol is not a causal risk factor of coronary heart disease (CHD) because increased HDL cholesterol is not always associated with a reduced CHD risk. This study provides further evidence that low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a causal risk factor of CHD because increases in LDL cholesterol are found to be consistently associated with increased risk of heart attack.

Flora ProActiv and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) launch the Love Your Heart Report

Posted: 1 July 2015

The inaugural Love Your Heart seminar for health care professionals (HCPs) took place on 1st November 2012 to provide a comprehensive understanding of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in women and to outline how HCPs can work with women in day-to-day practice to help manage or improve their CHD risk.

The seminar was led by the following two experts in heart health:

  • Dr. Jane Flint, Consultant Cardiologist, Chair British Cardiovascular Society Joint Working Group Recommendations for Women’s Heart Health, Trustee British Heart Foundation
  • Dr. Jonathan Morrell, GP and founding member of both HEART UK and the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society spoke to a range of Health Care Professionals

Following the seminar, the Love Your Heart report has been launched by Flora ProActiv and the BHF providing an overview for HCPs of the current outlook of CHD in women in the UK.

The report is split into two main chapters: the first – The Heart of the Matter – looks at the prevalence of CHD in women today, current research and attitudes towards it. It also assesses the economic burden and presentation of CHD in practice as well as some of the regional and socio-economic differences of CHD in women across the UK. The second chapter – Reducing CHD risk – explores some of the main modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for CHD. It looks at the effects of smoking, high blood cholesterol – with reference to the benefits of plant sterol enriched foods – high blood pressure, poor diet and lifestyle and physical inactivity on heart health. It also addresses some of the current preventative strategies and treatment options available to reduce CHD risk.

Read the full Love your heart report

More patients know their credit rating than their cholesterol level

Posted: 1 June 2015

High cholesterol is a major risk factor in the development of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) – the single most common cause of death for men and women in the UK. But shocking new data reveals 70% of men and women in the UK aged 45+ do not know their cholesterol leveli. In fact, they are more likely to know their credit rating.ii

The research from over 1,000 men and women aged 45+ conducted by Flora ProActiv shows a worrying lack of awareness of cholesterol levels and calls for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to help patients better manage their heart health. In England, around 58% of men and 61% of women have blood cholesterol levels of 5.0 mmol/l and above, with prevalence increasing with age.iii But despite 79% saying they believe everyone is responsible for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level,iv the new data show more than one in three people aged 45+ are not concerned about their total cholesterol levelv with almost one in every five never having had their cholesterol checkedvi and over a third not being checked in over a year.vii It’s especially concerning given the data show that of those who have been checked, the majority have elevated cholesterol.viii

Tanya Footman, Senior Nutrition & Health Manager for Flora ProActiv commented; “It’s worrying there are so many misconceptions and that the majority of adults over the age of 45 do not know their cholesterol level. It’s very important that people are aware of their cholesterol level so they can better understand their risk of CHD. As people can directly influence the effect of modifiable risk factors on their heart health, such as cholesterol levels, healthcare professionals have a crucial role in helping their patients to make small and simple changes to their diet and lifestyle, to help them reduce their CHD risk.”

But the research also shows 73% of people aged 45+ rate HCPs as the most likely source of information they turn to for advice on lowering cholesterol meaning HCPs are uniquely placed to offer patients the advice and support they need to lower their cholesterol and therefore reduce their risk of CHD.*

*As heart disease has multiple risk factors, you may need to improve more than one to reduce your overall risk.


Scientific EU experts back Unilever’s new claim that phytosterols can lower LDL cholesterol by 11.3%

Posted: 1 May 2015

Scientific evidence on increased cholesterol lowering benefits of phytosterols (plant sterols and plant stanols) has been positively received by the panel of experts that reviews Disease Risk Reduction Claims (DRRC) for foods in the European Union.

EFSA’s expert paneli reviewed the scientific dossier submitted by Unilever and concluded that: “plant sterols and stanol esters at a daily intake of 3g (range 2.6 – 3.4g) in approved foods yellow fat spreads, dairy products, mayonnaise and salad dressings (No 376/2010) lower LDL-cholesterol by 11.3 % (95% CI: 10.0 – 12.5).”

Read full article

New data reveals sterols lower triglycerides in addition to LDL cholesterol levels

Posted: 1 April 2015

Two new studies reinforce that plant sterols are effective in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels as part of positive diet and lifestyle changes.

A pooled analysis of subject data from 12 clinical trials published in the European Journal of Nutrition indicates that an intake of about 2 grams plant sterols per day is associated with a 6% reduction in triglyceride levels.i

The analysis revealed that the lowering of triglyceride concentrations was exaggerated in those with high triglycerides concentration at baseline. This analysis substantiates previous research that found plant sterols to reduce triglycerides by 4%.ii Triglycerides are increasingly recognised as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, and this effect may add to the overall benefit of using plant sterol enriched foods.iii

European Journal of Nutrition analysis

FAO recommend switch from SFA’s to PUFA’s to benefit heart health

Posted: 1 March 2015

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has collated a substantial body of evidence that suggests replacing saturated fatty acids (SFA) with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) benefits heart health. The FAO therefore recommends that SFA should be replaced with PUFA in the diet.

The convincing evidence shows that replacing SFA’s with PUFA’s decreases LDL cholesterol concentration and the total/HDL cholesterol ratio.

FAO Food and Nutrition paper

October is National Cholesterol Month

Posted: 19 September 2014

Research conducted among 1,874 UK adults (aged 18+) by Opinion Matters between 20.09.13 -23.09.13.Joint Health Surveys Unit (2009) Health Survey for England 2008. Physical activity and fitness, The Information Centre, Leeds

Greater beneficial effect on reducing cholesterol by plant sterols – New European Commission regulation states

  1. Official Journal of the European Union; Commission Regulation (EU) No 686/2014 of 20 June 2014; amending Regulations (EC) No 983/2009 and (EU) No 384/2010 as regards the conditions of use of certain health claims related to the lowering effect of plant sterols and plant stanols on blood LDL-cholestrol. Last accessed July 2014.

Further data shows raising plasma HDL cholesterol may not reduce heart disease risk

Armitage, ‘HPS2-THRIVE: Randomized comparison of extended release (ER) niacin/ laropiprant 2g Daily Versus Placebo in 25,673 Patients at High Risk of Occlusive Vascular Events’, ACC Confernece, March 2013NHS Choices, High Cholesterol [Last accessed: 2nd April 2013]
Voight et al. ‘Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study’. The Lancet . August 2012; 380 (9841): 572-80

Heart Health Study Days

Coronary Heart Disease Statistics 2012. British Heart Foundation (2012)

More patients know their credit rating than their cholesterol level

Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 6 (Dec. 2012)
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 19 (Dec. 2012)Joint Health Surveys Unit (2009) Health Survey for England 2008. Physical activity and fitness. The Information Centre, Leeds
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 14 (Dec. 2012)Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 6b (Dec. 2012)
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 2 (Dec. 2012)
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 3 (Dec. 2012)
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 4 (Dec. 2012)
Flora ProActiv Cholesterol Study, Question 20 (Dec. 2012)

Love Your Heart

Exact figure for CHD female deaths is 38,500
YouGov, Heart Disease Survey (September 2012), Q. 7

Scientific eu experts back Unilever’s new claim that phytosterols can lower ldl cholesterol by 11.3%

Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies

New data reveals sterols lower triglycerides in addition to ldl cholesterol levels

Demonty I, Ras RT, Henk C.M. et al. The effect of plant sterols on serum triglyceride concentrations is dependent on baseline concentrations: a pools analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials Eur J Nutr. Published online 18 August 2012. Doi: 10.1007/s00394-011-0297-x
Naumann,E., Plat,J., Kesler,A.D., and Mensink,R.P. (2008). The baseline serum lipoprotein profile is related to plant stanol induced changes in serum lipoprotein cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27, 117-126.
Sarwar N, Danesh J, Eiriksdottir G et al. Triglycerides and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease : 10 158 Incident Cases Among 262 525 Participants in 29 Western Prospective Studies Circulation 2007 115:450-458

FAO recommend switch from sfa’s to pufa’s to benefit heart health

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition – report of an expert consultation. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 91, November 2008