Industry-funded study of the week: Unilever
A low-fat spread with added plant sterols and fish omega-3 fatty acids lowers serum triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in individuals with modest hypercholesterolaemia and hypertriglyceridaemia. Blom AM, et al. European Journal of Nutrition. 2019;58(4):1615–1624.
Purpose: “to investigate the triglyceride (TG) and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering effects of a spread [i.e., margarine] with added plant sterols (PS) and fish oil as compared to a placebo spread.”
Conclusions: “Four-week consumption of the intervention spread led to significant and clinically relevant decreases in serum TG, LDL-C and other blood lipid concentrations.”
Funder: The study was funded by Unilever BCS Research and Development Vlaardingen, the Netherlands.
Conflicts of interest: of the authors, four are employed by Unilever.
Comment: Unilever makes margarines with plant sterols and fish oils. You might buy them if they control blood lipid risk factors for heart disease. This is in-house company research aimed at proving the benefits of a Unilever product, which is what so many other companies do.
But Unilever was one of the few Big Food companies that sponsored basic research (and maybe it still does?). As I describe in my book, Unsavory Truth, Unilever was the sponsor of the basic research that demonstrated the harmful effects of trans-fat on disease risk.