• A new Weet-Bix variant uses plant sterols to lower cholesterol.
    A new Weet-Bix variant uses plant sterols to lower cholesterol.

A new Weet-Bix variant that uses plant sterols to reduce cholesterol levels by up to 9 per cent in four weeks has been launched by Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing.

According to the company, just two biscuits (one serving) consumed daily is sufficient, and will mean consumers with high cholesterol will no longer need to rely on multiple food products to get the Heart Foundation's recommended 2g daily intake of plant sterols.

Plant sterols lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive system, and they are found in a variety of foods like grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds but only in very small quantities.

Sanitarium says it will hold exclusive permission in the Food Standards Code for Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) for up to a year to include an increased level of plant sterols in cereals.

Until now, regulations only permitted a maximum of approximately 1 gram of plant sterols in a single serve of food. This exclusive permission will make Weet-Bix the only cereal product on the market to contain this higher amount plant sterols per serve.

The efficacy of Weet-Bix Cholesterol Lowering was verified via a clinical trial involving Australian adults with high cholesterol, conducted in 2016 by a team of researchers at the University of South Australia, according to Sanitarium.

Dr Peter Clifton, Professor of Nutrition at the University of South Australia and research lead for the clinical trial said: “The latest Weet-Bix cereal is the most innovative cholesterol lowering product I’ve seen in 15 years – it’s easy, convenient and proven to work."

According to Sanitarium, the latest figures how that Australians are complacent about cholesterol, with 64 per cent of consumers not having their cholesterol tested once every 2 years, as commonly advised by health practitioners. Moreover, almost half of these people are aged 45 and above, putting them in a high-risk group.

The company's CEO Kevin Jackson said the new product would make it easier for Australians to take charge of their heart health.

“We’re thrilled to be the first breakfast cereal in the country that can make such a direct and positive impact and help Aussies needing to manage their cholesterol, kick start their day in a healthy and enjoyable way.”