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Functional Foods - what do you think of probiotic and cholesterol reducing products?

(38 Posts)
gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 20:48:16

The supermarkets are chock full of various products that make some sort of health claim.
You know the ones,
Probiotic yogurts - help support your body's defences
Vegetable fat spreads - rich in heart healthy omega 3 and 6
Yogurts - reduce the level of 'bad cholesterol'

Do you buy these? Do you believe the health claims on the packaging? Do you think its all a big marketing scam?

i am writing an assignment on consumer opinion of functional food products and thought it would be good to see what real people actually think.

TheArmadillo Wed 22-Apr-09 20:52:41

I think it's overpriced crap tbh.

I don't doubt that there is something in the foods that does what it claims but not enough to actually make a difference. Or the ingrediant that the claim rests on is inactive in the product. OR the body can't actually absorb it in the form in the food. Or that the average person gets plenty in of whatever in their diet anyway so is no point.

Plus mostly I think having a balanced diet or a diet that addresses these issues is better than buying specific products. It seems that people buy them to ignore what the crap tehy are eating and rather than change it rely on products that aren't really going to do anything - when what would help is changing their diet completely.

TheProvincialLady Wed 22-Apr-09 20:54:30

They are a load of old tosh. Probiotic yoghurts - full of sugar and most of them have no useful amount of probioticin them. 'Healthy' margarine is just nasty fat. I wouldn't eat anything that had to have deodorant added to it. For every healthy ingredient that these foods claim to have, you can guarantee that there are three grim, unhealthy, unnatural ones that they don't mention in the advertising.

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 20:58:00

You have to eat quite a lot of it to get the protective benefits. 20 g of Flora a day seems like a lot to me (I'm a bit of a butter refuser. Goes back to the days when my nan used to make me butter and sugar sandwiches . Bleeeuuurghh. How's that for a nutritious snack?.)

However, if I skip the 20 g of buttery spread in my sandwiches I save 126 calories and 14 g of fat.

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 20:59:08

Deoderant TPL? I assume you are referring to the rancid kind of smell of the plant sterols added to Benecol et al?

nickytwotimes Wed 22-Apr-09 20:59:41

Load of expensive rubbish.
Plenty people fall for it though.

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 21:03:11

So what dairy products do you all buy?

ingles2 Wed 22-Apr-09 21:05:39

As I understood it the cholesterol reducing drinks/yoghurts actually have a plant enzyme in them that breaks down cholesterol. All the rest is marketing... so am I right?

mileniwmffalcon Wed 22-Apr-09 21:06:04

this kind of thing is just totally f'ed up i reckon. like the eggs they do that are high in omega-whicheveroneitis - how do they make them high in omega-whicheveroneitis? feed fish to the chickens, obviously hmm cos chickens are well known predators of salmon in the wild, are they not? hmm it's this kind of feeding cows to themselves idiocy that gets us into serious trouble angry

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 21:13:31

ingles, I think you are referring to plant sterols/stanols. Plant sterols are basically the plant equivalent of animal cholesterol. These are compounds that have actually been scientifically proven to reduce blood cholesterol by 15%. The health claims are that they may be beneficial for people with high cholesterol or a history of heart disease. in people with elevated cholesterol.

The most bizarre thing about this imo, is that these compounds occur naturally in plants (including the ones we extract oil from) and they are TAKEN OUT because they smell a bit funny. And then we pay some huge company a fortune to put them back in!

FrankMustard Wed 22-Apr-09 21:34:56

I was advised to use Benecol to lower my cholesterol but it doesn't agree with me at all - stomach problems - and I know a number of other people for whom it has the same effect, so I have given up on that and am having more soya milk as that's supposed to help lower cholesterol too.
I think the biggest downside to these products, aside from the effects they have on tummies, is that they are massively expensive and have to be eaten really quickly eg a small tub of Benecol, which would take me ages to get through, has a really short BB date so I never bought it again as it just went in the bin.

FrankMustard Wed 22-Apr-09 21:37:51

Probiotic yoghurts are a bit different to some products that may be seen simply as marketing ploys in that they do contain live bacteria so that does help to maintain the gut flora. I do eat these and you can buy live ypghurt with nothing else added to it if you're keen not to have ones with sugar in. A dollop of plain live yoghurt is a good health boost...but I shan't be going down the Benecol route again!

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 21:59:21

I too buy probiotic yogurts - I'm not sure I really believe that the bacteria can survive a swish about in 1 molar stomach acid (after all, I am a biologist!). many of the studies into probiotics came up with naff all. However ther has been some interesting work that reckons probiotics may benefit people who are in hospital. I will admit to glugging down a few a day after an illness or tummy bug. Not sure if that is just wishful thinking!

FrankMustard Wed 22-Apr-09 22:01:35

Interesting stuff. What did make me feel good and add a zing to my step was a product you could buy years ago from health food shops called Api Regis, which was Royal jelly in a massala wine suspension! Now that was GOOD stuff - one shot before breakfast and you were good to go. It did wonders if I was flagging or under the weather and run down...unfortunately it's not available anymore. Woe is me....let me know if you ever do anything on royal jelly's benefits!

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 22:15:35

Who advised you to eat Benecol, Frank? Your GP?

ingles2 Wed 22-Apr-09 22:21:42

mmmm...interesting.
Dh's GP suggested he should drink benecol as his blood pressure is slightly high, along with cutting out his favourite food (cheese) and the alcohol.

gemmiegoatlegs Wed 22-Apr-09 22:30:26

GPs just want to spoil everyone's fun don't they? if its being 'prescribed' by doctors shouldn't benecol be available on the NHS ?!

I have read that a clove of garlic every day has comparable (10-15%) decreases in blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Why do doctors never recommend something that costs 10p a day?

FrankMustard Wed 22-Apr-09 22:37:59

Yes, gemmie, I was advised after DS2 was born to start Benecol as my cholesterol was raised and again last year when I had routine check, another gp told me to take it. You're right - why didn't I think of it - they should be at least subsidising it if they're recommending it in medical practices....
as it is, the darn stuff made me bloated and bunged up so I shan't be having it again!!
I'm due another cholesterol test next month to see how I'm getting on (my father had cholesterol problems so they're monitoring me) and if they suggest Benecol again, I think I shall rasie that issue with them about the cost etc!! Interesting to see what they say!
They never once advised soya milk which apaprently lowers cholesterol if you have a certain amount per day nor did they suggest the garlic.

FrankMustard Wed 22-Apr-09 22:38:26

Maybe GPs have a nice collection of free keyrings and goodies from Benecol reps......

gemmiegoatlegs Thu 23-Apr-09 09:32:55

I wouldn't be surprised Frank!

has anyone else got an opinion - I know you morning people are an opinionated lot!

gemmiegoatlegs Thu 23-Apr-09 13:03:06

Bumpety Bump

TheProvincialLady Thu 23-Apr-09 13:54:29

Gemmie we only have milk, butter and plain yoghurt in the house - organic because I don't like the idea of hormones in the milk and also because of animal welfare. Regarding the deoderant thing, I read somewhere that marg smells so bad in its natural state that they have to add chemicals to it to take the smell away and make it palatable. It might be a myth but it put me off so badly that I can't eat it any more. Once I switched to butter found marg so repulsive that I could never go back. I just try to eat a sensible amount (and mainly cook with olive oil anyway). I am sure that most of the health claims of marg have been made by the manufacturers. At least butter is a natural product and you know what is in it.

TheProvincialLady Thu 23-Apr-09 13:55:10

Oh and cheese of course. DH lives on it. Also organic (what a food ponce I sound!)

Salleroo Thu 23-Apr-09 14:10:42

Most of those probiotic drinks contain mountains of sugar and the majority of the flora is dead. They are an expensive waste of money. If you have IBS etc adding sugar to the equation via thses drink is just making the situation worse. Save yourself the money and buy live natural yoghurt and if you really need a good dose of probiotics buy capsules or powder from a reputable brand.

A girl I go to college with works with one of the big probiotic drinks manufacturers who admited you would have to drink gallons of the stuff to benefit.

Eating flora to lower your cholesterol and then having a curry and a beer on the weekend is counter productive.

A healthy balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and veg and a little of what you fancy now and then is the way to go.

Re cooking with olive oil, you are better off with sunflower or veg oil as it converts to transfats at a higher temp. Olive oil converts sooner so is better used as a drizzle/ dressing etc.

I'm with you on the butter though, why eat anything at all as a spread if you are going to go with marg??? Butter is at least natural.

AnarchyAunt Thu 23-Apr-09 14:23:39

I think they are all overpriced gak [gavel]

Probiotic-y type drinks with a mountain of sugar - why not have plain old yoghurt?

Cholesterol lowering margarine is bleeurggh and you'd be better off with a cholesterol lowering diet, and by diet I mean way of eating, not faddy expensive additions to a crappy diet.

Fish oils? How about some farking fish for tea?

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