Can cereals reduce high cholesterol?

We have come a long way since the humble bowl of Corn Flakes. Kellogg’s signature cereal was famous for being best enjoyed with “ice cold” milk. Its latest cereal product, Optivita, is being sold along far more complicated lines. Current television advertisements for Optivita proudly proclaim that the cereal has been approved by Heart UK, “the cholesterol charity”. The idea is that by choosing Optivita (an amalgamation of “optimal” and “vitality”) you are going to do good things to your cholesterol, so eat on.

Let us remind ourselves what high cholesterol levels mean in practice. High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as are smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle. People can also inherit high cholesterol levels – a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, which usually requires medication.

Cholesterol receives a lot of attention because it is easily measurable and, unlike one’s family medical history or diabetes, modifiable. Statin medication helps, but many people would, very reasonably, prefer to improve their diet than take a pill. This is where breakfast comes in.

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