Introduction Page 7

Reserpine is a drug that comes from the Rauwolfia serpentine (snakeroot) plant which is used as an antihypertensive drug {30}. It is also used as an antipsychotic and tranquilizing drug. It marketed under the name Serpina.

Along with hypertension high cholesterol is a major problem in this century. Many products now have anti-cholesterol put in them; one that immediately comes to mind is Benecol. This substance is a plant sterol {31} usually in the form of the ester {32}

Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United Kingdom . A healthy and varied diet including functional foods including plant sterols, plant stanols, and oats can play a significant role in improving heart health.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is most probably the agent for Cardio-Vascular-Disease (CVD), and that management of the LDL should be the priority. The current thinking is for a level of 3mmol/L for the amount of LDL in the blood. Diet and lifestyle have a major influence on the amount of LDL in the blood, hence a low cholesterol diet should be adhered to.

The importance of diet in the maintenance of a healthy heart demands the lowering of the LDL's. Plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol {33} apart from an extra side chain. The saturated derivatives of plant sterols are plant stanols. The plant stanols are usually esterified usually adding a fatty acid, typically oleic acid. Plant stanol esters make it easy to incorporate in a variety of foods. This fatty acid gets broken off the plant stanol in the digestive tract, where the free plant stanol can block the cholesterol absorption. The main type of plant stanol ester is sitostanol ester {figure 29}.

Additional benefit is also achieved when plant stanol ester is used in conjunction with statin {34} therapy.

Page 8 of the Introduction