A more than 50 % increase in the life span of Zucker rats, a commonly used animal model for human obesity, was seen by enrichment of unhealthy food with a novel combination of plant sterols and mineral nutrients.
Extensive studies in the University of Helsinki have shown that the increase in life span is mainly due to the ability of this new composition to lower serum cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and decrease obesity, which were all increased by the high-fat, high-salt diets without the enrichment. Improved function of blood vessels also appears to play a role. Human studies have already confirmed a part of the findings, and other data suggest that the effects of the new composition may be largely relevant also for man.
The food ingredient and food item composition, which comprises simultaneous enrichment with both plant sterols and the mineral nutrients calcium, potassium and magnesium, proved to produce a surprisingly wide range of health benefits. Therefore the composition was given the name "MultiBene", derived from the words "Multiple Benefits". In a commonly used animal model, which received the Western type diet, this combination produced effective lowering of elevated serum cholesterol and blood pressure, and decrease of obesity. Most remarkably, in the presence of the this composition in the food, which was high in saturated fat and salt, the life span of the animals was increased to more than 1.5-fold.
Clinical studies have confirmed the good cholesterol lowering effect of various foods with MultiBene enrichment. Moreover, they have confirmed that such food compositions are consistent with the current recommendations for blood pressure lowering and bone health improving foods. The capability of this combination to prevent or decrease obesity even in man is the object of studies in the future.