Monday, September 7, 2009

Can Someone With Low Cholesterol Eat a "Cholesterol-Lowering" Spread?

I am wondering if it's safe for someone without high cholesterol to eat a product like "Smart Balance" that says it's helpful for those with high cholesterol ... also, could it be harmful for a toddler to eat it? --Alice O.

Dear Alice,

The human body makes all the cholesterol it needs (it actually does have some useful functions!) and you never have to eat any.
Some of the products that claim they are good for lowering cholesterol are really just suggesting they don't contribute to higher cholesterol. The same would be true for having fresh fruit--as an example--it won't raise your cholesterol!

On the other hand, there are some products out now that DO contain ingredients to LOWER your cholesterol. Benecol, and "Take Control" are spreads that have soybean or other plant components designed to bind to cholesterol and drag it out of the body (like a medication called questran, and the over-the-counter metamucil also do). These would not be harmful to kids any more than feeding them extra soluble fibers (like beans or oats), but they are quite expensive and I doubt most people would let any other family member use theirs instead of a less-expensive spread that's good enough for everyone!

So smart balance would be fine for a small child, just as any other spread, and even butter! Just remember the old adage, "everything in moderation".

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