The British Heart Foundation & Flora pro.activ – an unhealthy relationship

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) describes itself as “a charity that aims to prevent people dying from heart diseases”. Until now, the BHF has remained relatively conflict free – a paragon of virtue in fact when compared with some other ‘heart charities’. Heart UK, for example, calls itself the cholesterol charity (cholesterol should have a charity for having become endangered, but that’s not what they mean!) Heart UK partners with drug companies, the very companies that profit beyond wild dreams from the lucrative war on this life vital substance, as their partner list confirms.

I receive a copy of the BHF magazine, which comes out six times a year. It is called “Heart Matters” and should be commended for having no adverts. It should also be completely ignored because the high carb/low fat/fear cholesterol advice is doing serious harm. However, at least the BHF has appeared free from conflict – until now…

On page 8 of the October/November issue there was an item entitled “Women’s heart health at risk” and the magazine proudly announced “We have teamed up with Flora pro.activ to encourage women to think more about their heart health.” It continued: “This month keep your eyes peeled for the partnership, which will reach women through information on special packs of Flora pro.activ, TV ads and online.” TV ads are seriously expensive – we can guess that Unilever has funded these? “One of the key things the campaign will encourage women to do is to get their cholesterol checked.” And once in the system, no doubt, the women can be frightened into fearing cholesterol and trying to lower it with statins or eating Flora pro.activ gunge or both. A web site has been set up in honour of this new partnership.

I first saw the advert on UK TV screens in January 2013 – you can see it here. A woman confidently asserts “A key risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol.” My independent, unbiased, not-funded-by-drug-companies study of all 192 countries for which the World Health Organisation has data shows that the exact opposite is true. The higher one’s cholesterol level, the lower one’s risk of heart disease and vice versa. For men and women. For heart disease and all cause mortality. The graphs are on this blog here.

There are three critical things that the BHF needs to know about spreads that lower cholesterol – 1) how they are made 2) how they lower cholesterol and 3) the particular issues with targeting women.

1) How spreads are made

An entire industry, worth five billion dollars in the USA (2008) alone,[i] has been built on the irony of destroying the reputation of butter and then trying to reproduce the substance. The main fat in butter is saturated fat, making it naturally solid at room temperature. Butter also has a natural colour.

The first part of the imitation process is to take liquid oils, usually cheap and low quality vegetable oils, and then turn them into solid fats in some way. The chemical difference between fats solid at room temperature and fats liquid at room temperature is that the solid fats have hydrogen atoms in the right place providing a more solid and stable structure. This is why butter is one of the safest fats to cook with. So the spread manufacturers need to add hydrogen atoms to their liquid oils in some way. We used to hear about hydrogenated fats and then we had partially hydrogenated fats, but whether or not the attempt is to fully or partially hydrogenate liquid oils, the process is the same. If the spreads industry are turning liquid fats into solids in a new/non-hydrogenated way – I invite them to share how. (See Post Script)

In the process of hydrogenation, the oils are heated and pressurised and hydrogen gas is added, along with a catalyst, like nickel, to produce a chemical reaction. The idea is that the hydrogen atoms end up in the gaps where they would be in a more saturated fat. Of course, the hydrogen atoms don’t end up exactly where they ‘should’. Some end up on the wrong side of the structure and you end up not with a saturated fat, but with a completely new fat completely alien to the body. These are what is known as trans fats – some atoms have ‘transitioned’/crossed over and are not where they should be. (Do I think that putting alien chemicals into the human body can cause heart disease, cancer and all sorts of harm? I think that I would be naive not to think this).

The substance at the end of this process is grey, smelly and lumpy, so it is bleached, deodorised and emulsifiers are added to smooth things over. The mandatory vitamins are added in at this stage because none could have survived that process. Finally, the stuff needs some colour to make it look edible, so, of course, the preferred colour is butter colour. (Canada retained the strongest legislative position on not allowing butter colour to be used. As recently as July 2008 Quebec became the last Canadian province to repeal its law that margarine should be colourless).[ii]

The processed spread is much cheaper, despite all the industrial operations needed. Real butter needs to come from a real animal and the best butter is hand churned. I checked an on line grocery store at the time of writing The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it?, and the cheapest butter that I could buy was nearly three times the price of the cheapest spread. The butter was sold in 250 gram packets. The spreads were sold in 500 gram, or one kilogram, tubs.

To conclude the ‘how to imitate butter’ process, you need a health claim, a name and a marketing campaign. The health claim should be twofold: a) this is not a bad saturated fat (tell them what you are not – don’t tell them what you are); and b) add some plant sterols and then ‘sell’ cholesterol lowering ‘benefit’. The name and the marketing campaign go hand in hand. While welcoming any attack on saturated fat generally, and butter particularly, the spread companies launch products called “Utterly Butterly”, “Butter me up”, “Butterlicious”, “You’ll Mutter It’s Butter”, “Don’t Flutter with Butter”, “You’d Butter Believe”, “You’ll Never Believe It, Believe It or Not”, all spawned from the original “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”[iii]

You just couldn’t make this up.

2) How spreads lower cholesterol

There is nothing in the spread itself that would lower cholesterol (please remember we should never try to lower the body’s own production of cholesterol – but we’re working through this scenario to see what these spreads actually do). It is the plant sterols mentioned above that can impact human cholesterol. These can be obtained in tablet form, so no one needs to consume spreads, even if they are misinformed enough to risk consuming plant sterol. (Why didn’t the BHF tell people this and not go near spreads?)

Think of plant sterols as plant cholesterol – just as we humans have human cholesterol. There are several types of plant cholesterol; together they are named plant sterols. A typical Western diet contains approximately 400-500 mg plant sterols, but little is taken up in the gut. Human and plant cholesterol compete for uptake in the gut. So, if too much plant sterol is consumed, human cholesterol falls.

I don’t know about you but I assume that my body is making the cholesterol that it needs and a plant is making the cholesterol that it needs. If we were supposed to be replacing human cholesterol with plant cholesterol I figure that there would be a natural process for this. But then ‘natural’ is rarely lucrative.

So yes, human cholesterol, which is what our blood test measures, will fall if we consume plant sterols but a) this is not natural b) we have no evidence that replacing our cholesterol with plant cholesterol will lower heart disease and c) we have no evidence that replacing our cholesterol with plant cholesterol is safe.

As Dr Uffe Ravnskov, founder of the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics and author of several books about fat and cholesterol, says: “It is correct that cholesterol goes down if we eat much plant sterol, but that doesn’t mean that it is able to prevent heart disease, because no one has ever tested that in a scientific experiment. What happens is that our own cholesterol is exchanged with a foreign type of cholesterol, not only in the blood but also in our cells and cell membranes. Is it really a good idea? Isn’t it likely that the molecular differences between animal and plant sterols have a meaning? I think so, and science is in support of my view.”

Dr Ravnskov has led the way in trying to investigate what happens if we unnaturally ingest large quantities of plant sterols. He notes that David Jenkins and 16 colleagues had an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association raving about the ‘benefits’ of consuming plant sterols.

Ravnskov uncovered their conflicts of interests as follows: “According to the Conflict of Interest Disclosures ten of the authors were supported financially by Unilever and several other producers of the food types used in the trial. Here is for instance Dr. Jenkins´ list:

“Dr Jenkins reported serving on the Scientific Advisory Board of Unilever, Sanitarium Company, California Strawberry Commission, Loblaw Supermarket, Herbal Life International, Nutritional Fundamental for Health, Pacific Health Laboratories, Metagenics, Bayer Consumer Care, Orafti, Dean Foods, Kellogg’s, Quaker Oats, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, NuVal Griffin Hospital, Abbott, Pulse Canada, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and Canola Council of Canada; receiving honoraria for scientific advice from the Almond Board of California, International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, Barilla, Unilever Canada, Solae, Oldways, Kellogg’s, Quaker Oats, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, NuVal Griffin Hospital, Abbott, Canola Council of Canada, Dean Foods, California Strawberry Commission, Haine Celestial, and Alpro Foundation; being on the speakers panel for the Almond Board of California; receiving research grants from Loblaw Brands Ltd, Unilever, Barilla, Almond Board of California, Solae, Haine Celestial, Sanitarium Company, Orafti, International Tree Nut Council, and Peanut Institute; and receiving travel support to meetings from the Almond Board of California, Unilever, Alpro Foundation, and International Tree Nut Council.” 

In addition Unilever Research and Development provided the donation of margarines used in the study.

Without the luxury of being funded by spread makers, Dr Ravnskov has found that “several studies have shown that even a mild elevation of plant sterols in the blood is a risk factor for heart disease”. (Further information and references for these studies can be found in Dr Ravnskov’s September 2012 newsletter ).

Ravnskov gives this as a particular example: “Statin treatment lowers blood cholesterol, but at the same time it raises the level of plant sterols. In the 4S-trial [one of the best known statin studies] about 25 % of the patients had a mildly elevated level of plant sterols before treatment. In this group statin treatment resulted in a further increase of plant sterols and the number of heart attacks was twice as high compared with the patients with the lowest plant sterol levels. This means that for about 25% of the many millions of people on statin treatment, their risk of heart disease may increase, not decrease. ”

In spite of that, Unilever still advertise their margarine and other food products with high contents of plant sterols as “heart healthy” and now the British Heart Foundation is part of this scandal.

3) The particular issues with targeting women

Q) Why do eggs contain a lot of cholesterol?

A) Because it takes a lot of cholesterol to make a healthy chicken.

For women to make a healthy baby, they need a lot of cholesterol. The blog showing that high cholesterol is associated with low heart deaths and low overall mortality has details about the functions performed by cholesterol and why it is so utterly life vital to humans. When you understand the vital role that cholesterol plays in every single cell of the human body, not least the reproductive system, you can start to understand why cholesterol is so vital to all humans, and to women having or intending to have children especially. (You may also wonder why on earth such a critical substance for human health has been demonised so comprehensively – the next paragraph will give you a clue.)

Lipitor is the most lucrative of all statins. It has earned Pfizer in the region of $125 BILLION since 1997. The patient leaflet can be accessed here. The leaflet states “Do not take Lipitor
− if you are a woman able to have children and not using reliable contraception
− if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
− if you are breast-feeding.”

So, even the drug companies know that cholesterol should not be lowered in pregnant women, breastfeeding women or women who could conceive. What about cholesterol lowering products, as opposed to cholesterol lowering drugs? When Flora pro.activ replaces human cholesterol with plant sterols, what are the consequences? When the pregnant woman’s cholesterol level is lowered by taking Flora pro.activ, what are the consequences? Should cholesterol lowering spreads come with a health warning for pregnant women? Breastfeeding women? Women of childbearing age? Are they safe? Let alone healthy? Does Unilever know? Does the BHF know? Do they care? Do you know? Do you care?

Nature makes a natural product for using in any and all circumstances when Unilever would no doubt prefer people to use one of their processed products instead. The natural product is called butter, but then there’s no money for Unilever or the BHF in promoting butter. Shame on both of them.

Post Script: The wonderful Dr. Malcolm Kendrick has found that there is a way of solidifying liquid vegetable oils without hydrogenation. The process is called Interesterification and Wiki tells us how it is done: “Interesterification is carried out by blending the desired oils and then rearranging the fatty acids over the glycerol backbone with, for instance the help of catalysts or lipase enzymes. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) decrease the melting point of fats significantly. A triglyceride containing three saturated fatty acids is generally solid at room temperature and not very desirable for many applications. Rearranging these tryglycerides with oils containing unsaturated fatty acids lowers the melting point and creates fats with properties better suited for target food products. In addition, blending interesterified oils with liquid oils allows the reduction in saturated fatty acids in many trans fatty acid free food products. The interesterified fats can be separated through controlled crystallization, also called fractionation.”

Yummy!

(Zoe note – the idea that real saturated fats may not be desirable and these manufactured fats may be better suited for ‘target food products’ may refer to the fact that these ‘fake’ fats are cheaper and have a longer shelf life – fine properties for a ‘food’ company, but not for a human).


[i] http://www.just-food.com/market-research/butter-margarine-and-table-spreads-us_id65428.aspx

[ii] CBC News: 9 July 2008. http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2008/07/09/f-margarine.html

[iii] “I can’t believe it’s not butter”, Marketing Week, (29 May 1997).

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/home/i-cant-believe-its-not-butter/2023474.article

89 thoughts on “The British Heart Foundation & Flora pro.activ – an unhealthy relationship

  • avatar
    January 22, 2017 at 1:52 pm
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    Hi Zoe,
    I am 44 yrs old male with a BMI of 26. My BP, Blood sugar, Liver & Renal functionality is normal. But my LDL-C was slightly up. I was prescribed Rosuvastatin-10 mg for 1 month and after a month, it has come down slightly, but my Lipoprotien(a) shoot up by 12 mg/dl and total cholesterol up by 9 mg/dl.

    please see the below test reports taken Before and After using statin medication and suggest me what to do to lower my LDL-C and LP(a) levels.

    Before AFter
    1 TOTAL CHOLESTEROL 190 196 mg/dl
    2 LIPOPROTEIN (A) 37.2 45.1 mg/dl
    3 HDL – C – DIRECT 34 37 mg/dl
    4 LDL- C- DIRECT 137 130 mg/dl
    5 TRIGLYCERIDES 114 110 mg/dl
    6 VLDL CHOLESTEROL 22.8 22 mg/dl
    7 NON-HDL CHOLESTEROL 155.7 159.3 mg/dl

    Many thanks in advance
    Suresh

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 22, 2017 at 4:40 pm
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      Hi Suresh
      I wrote this blog because I get so many queries like this and I have nothing but contempt for the people who created and perpetuated this cholesterol con. Here’s the blog (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/)

      Your cholesterol is below average as a matter of fact. You may like to watch this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34) to see where the targets came from (drug cos essentially) Watch from approx 43 mins for the conflicts – although all of this is fascinating.

      My view is that you would have been better off not having a cholesterol test and then worry (which can be harmful) would not be an issue.

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
      • avatar
        February 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm
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        It’s almost as if the BHF is intentionally and systematically trying to make the UK more ill…

        Reply
  • avatar
    December 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm
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    Wow!
    I’m 67, slim and “fit” untill I saw the doctors.
    I’ve just had a “discussion” with a GP about being recommended Statins even though I exercise in the gym, and run cross country regularly and don’t have high cholesterol, after a Transient Ischemic Attack. No symptoms other than a scary, partial loss of sight in the right half of the right eye for no more than an hour on Nov 20th ’16 (Not sure how long as I drove immediately to the eye clinic @ 9.30pm, Darkness limited vision anyway. Clear when I arrived, say 25 mins.) After being diagnosed with suspected TIA, appointment made with the TIA assesment centre.
    (Recognised the visual disturbance as near identical to Giant Cell Arteritis 3 years ago! Regained all sight just getting off steroids now. You’d think I was a wreck, but far far from it!)
    No other effects noticed; heart, MRI head scan clear in the affected area (something noticed on left side of brain, to be followed up as none critical.) Ultra sound Carotid scan normal, visual, oral, balance, muscular reaction all clear. Put on blood thinning Clopidogrel, 75mg, fair enough but then wanted to add Statins, when I asked why he just quoted research figures for heart attack? What worries me is that on 1st Nov ’16 I “T” boned a car on my scooter doing 30-35mph. No bones broke, skinned both legs and a large contusion on left leg, could a blood clot have detached from that and found it’s way to my eyes?
    Nobody showed any interest in this information, except a physician giving me the all clear after high PSA reading for BPH, who asked if I’d been seen by a doctor after my crash, as at my age that can cause unseen head injuries to the brain?? Crash was 14 days before, swelling grew after incident about 2 days later. Just receeding now.
    Do you think Statins help my TIA in any way and did that crash contribute to the unexpected loss of sight, in a fit person?
    Thank you for your patience.
    Tom

    Reply
    • avatar
      December 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm
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      Hi Tom
      Crikey you’ve had a busy November! Sorry to hear about all this and please note I’m not a medical doctor and can’t give advice – not that a medical doctor would give advice on a web site anyway. I can give information and opinions…

      This is my main post on cholesterol and statins – plenty of interesting stuff there, including a link to a paper showing the real benefit of statins might be 3 days after 5 years! Worth the side effects?! Not in a million years in my view (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/)

      You may like to read the awesome Dr Malcolm Kendrick on “The Great Cholesterol Con”. One bit on strokes (p81 of this book) is as follows:
      “In 1995, The Lancet published a massive study that looked at 450,000 people over a period of 16 years who suffered, between them, 13,000 strokes. This represented 7.3 million person-years of observation.Frankly, that’s quite long enough for anybody. And the conclusions thereof: ‘There was no association between blood cholesterol level and stroke.'”

      Do I think head butting a car at 30-35mph could do harm? Hell yes! Especially given the swelling etc. That really should have been checked out better. You can also get a twitchy eye (bit of a trapped nerve) for no real reason. Given that all your other checks were good, I wouldn’t have jumped to a TIA conclusion had I been the first person to see you.

      Aspirin is probably a good idea in my opinion. Ditto blood thinners – but not for too long or you might get low BP problems and they can be bad for a fit person (dizziness getting up/random faints etc) Plus it sounds like you might bleed to death at your next encounter with a car! ;-)

      Can docs check out the crash impact better? Hopefully you’re on the mend anyway.

      Have a safe Xmas!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
      • avatar
        December 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm
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        Thank you so much for taking the time Zoe. Much appreciated and a very happy christmas to you and yours !

        Reply
  • avatar
    November 13, 2016 at 10:05 am
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    I’m convinced it’s sugar that is the culprit for CVD. I am now 70. I had an MI in October 2012 and a 3x heart bypass in March 2013 (yes, I was on the waiting list for THREE months!). Prior to 2012 I had been taking first simvastatin, then rosuvastatin (Crestor), but both drugs caused intolerable side effects (severe muscle aches mainly), and my GP agreed that I stop taking them. He put me on fibrates instead, which are better tolerated. Now the thing is, I *used* to eat LOTS of sugary foods. Since I left school at 15 I had binged on cream doughnuts, sweet puddings of all kinds, chocolate bars, cookies, two spoonsful of white sugar in EVERY cup of tea – you name it, if it was sweet, I was there! Second helpings, of course. I once ate 3/4 of a lemon meringue pie my mum had left on the windowsill to cool. It just looked and tasted so darned good. I was 11 at the time and my mother gave me a hiding for being greedy. (Well, this was 1958 and political correctness was unheard of.)

    But after my heart op I cut out all visible sugar. No cakes, no biscuits, no puddings, literally as little as possible, even watching for “hidden” sugars in savoury meals (the manufacturers add sugar to make them taste good). So throughout my life I, until three years ago, I have had a very sweet tooth. But now, even attempting to eat a sweet cake sets my teeth on edge. It literally *hurts* as the sugar hits my mouth! I even tried once to eat another cream doughnut for the first time in years, just to see what it tasted like, and I had to stop after the first bite, get a knife and scrape ALL the dusted sugar off! Even then it tasted far too sweet and I gave up after eating another bite.

    However, the BHF magazine which Zoe refers to, wags its finger at saturated fat big time, but hardly mentions sugar in the same vein, pardon the pun. I wrote to them, saying that several cardiologists have recently questioned the fat-CVD link, but they replied pompously, effectively saying that they’re right, the cardiologists are wrong.

    I reckon it was 65 years of eating sugary foods that contributed to my CVD, but try getting the BHF to acknowledge it! They are firmly of the view that fat is bad, statins are good, high cholesterol is bad, low cholesterol is good.

    Reply
  • avatar
    May 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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    Hi Zoe I came across your site after Googling Flora Pro Active. I am 60 years young, eat healthily, walk regularly and am not overweight. For the last 10 years I have tried 5 or 6 of the ‘usual’ statins to treat my ‘high’ cholesterol levels (between 6.5 and 7.7). Side effects from muscle pain, brain freeze, lethargy and even stomach cramps have plagued me so my GP kept changing my presciption . Last week a new GP told me not to worry too much and to leave it for a few months, after I had a recent blood test showing a level of 7.1(after no statins for 6 months. She told me that NICE were currently re visiting the criteria for prescribing statins.
    So no change in my levels but the bench mark is changing again!
    Here is the rub though. I have no history of heart or vascular problems in the family, but my husband had a major heart attack followed by a triple by-pass 6 years ago aged 62 and his cholesterol level was 3.9! Still put him on Simvastatin 20 mg and he hasn’t had his bloods checked since! Seems to me that they are happy to prescribe the drugs and take the money.

    Reply
  • avatar
    August 5, 2015 at 6:50 pm
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    hi Zoe I would like to ask if flora mini yogat drinks are good for you if you are type 2 diabetes thanks

    Reply
    • avatar
      August 5, 2015 at 7:41 pm
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      Hi Tony
      I’m a proponent of real food so in my opinion these are not good for any human! http://www.floraproactiv.co.uk/proactiv/flora-proactiv-range/flora-proactiv-mini-drinks.aspx

      YOGURT (79%), plant sterol esters (3.5%)*, glucose-fructose syrup, oligofructose (dietary fibre), sweetener (sucralose), antioxidant (tocopherol rich extract), colour (plain caramel), flavourings, emulsifiers (mono- and di-glcerides of fatty acids).

      WTF!
      Just eat real food!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    June 24, 2015 at 10:11 am
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    From New Zealand. I am 52 and very fit. Never smoked. Resting heart rate 45 and blood pressure all good. Mountain bike, gym work and running, let alone living a very active life. Just finished bike touring Cuba averaging 65 kms a day. My cholesterol varies from 5.2 to 5.7. My doctor would like me to get this down to about 4.0. No matter how hard I try a cant get any where close to this. My diet is very strict. Oats, blue berries, lots of fruit, nuts, green tea, Psyllium etc.. and don’t use butter or any dodgy spreads. Avoid saturated fats where possible. Eat lean meats and Avoid sugar. My partner, who is a nurse says don’t worry about it. I am extremely fit for my age and My body is making what it needs. I am now thinking she may be right. My next step was to turn to Flora pro-active. No chance of that now. It is a shame the medical profession and all involved are able to create such anxiety. Any advice.

    Reply
  • avatar
    May 18, 2015 at 8:14 am
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    Rather than being helpful, this article simply confuses the issue. Just who do you trust to provide the correct advice about cholesterol?

    On the one hand, there is strong medical opinion that a high cholesterol level is bad – yet you state ‘The higher one’s cholesterol level, the lower one’s risk of heart disease and vice versa.’

    I just don’t know who to believe!

    Reply
    • avatar
      May 18, 2015 at 8:51 am
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      Hi Rod
      You’re right to see that there are two polarised views on this one. One side thinks that cholesterol is trying to kill you and statins are the best things since sliced bread. The other side thinks that cholesterol is utterly life vital and statins will go down in history as the greatest medial scam ever inflicted on humans beings. The difference between the two sides is that the cholesterol is bad side stand to gain money beyond wild dreams – Lipitor alone has been worth $125 BILLION to Pfizer during its patented lifetime – and that’s just one statin from one company.

      I gained nothing from writing this blog – the BHF earned whatever they got from being in bed with Unilever. Does that help whom to trust?

      I would recommend reading as much as possible to decide what you think. Probably 99% of what you read will be on the side of the lucrative view. To get the counter balance try:
      http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2015/03/worried-about-cholesterol-andor-statins/
      This will link to most other cholesterol/statin posts I’ve done.
      Also check out anything on here: http://drmalcolmkendrick.org/
      and here: http://www.drbriffa.com/

      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
      • avatar
        May 29, 2015 at 1:40 am
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        Hi! I am aged 60 from New Zealand, lived on a sheep farm, milked a cow made butter and cheese, had chooks. As we had more children I got lazy and started buying more processed food.I moved to the city 5 years ago and my whole lifestyle changed to being less active and unhealthy food choices. Just went to the Dr. and now have high blood cholesterol. I refused the medicine. Googled healthy food nz about cholesterol and every site came up with Flora Pro Activ and plant sterol including the NZ Heart Foundation. Thankfully I found your article. I knew years ago that margarine was hydrogenated but not everything else about it.
        This site was very informative http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/04/start/whats-inside-flora-pro

        Reply
  • avatar
    May 4, 2015 at 10:30 am
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    How is butter ‘natural’? You talk about plant sterols being specific to plants, how is cows milk specific to humans? I would follow your same logic and, instead of contradicting myself, say that butter is NOT for humans – but instead, that butter is for growing a small calf into a mature bovine in an astonishing amount of time. There is nothing ‘natural’ about a fully grown human having the desire or need to suck from a cows udder or curdle her milk into an even less natural substance.

    You say you are “not funded by drug companies” but you don’t state whether you are “not funded by the dairy industry”.

    Reply
    • avatar
      May 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm
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      Hi Brock
      I am not funded by any industry – dairy, meat, fish, veg, junk – no industry and never will be. I don’t even allow ads on any of my sites. I write as I find
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    March 14, 2015 at 9:09 pm
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    I had a Flora Pro-activ yogurt drink for the first time yesterday. I don’t have high cholesterol but wanted to keep my partner (who has) company. I suffer from IBS but haven’t had an attack for weeks but soon after taking the yogurt drink I was doubled up in pain. Can anyone tell me if these drinks are known to trigger IBS attacks?

    Reply
  • avatar
    January 27, 2015 at 5:08 pm
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    My wife has just been told she has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, she attended a well being session at the local GP. One of the recommendations was to give up animal fats, only eat low fat cheese and eat more flora instead of butter. She came away with a sheet that showed good OK and bad foods, all prepared courtesy of Flora! There continues to be so much confusion and contradictions around our eating and life styles, I remember eggs being bad!
    Good article and helpful

    Reply
  • avatar
    January 24, 2015 at 6:30 pm
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    Thank you for your very interesting article, which I found whilst searching the Internet for the following reason. Do you think it possible that someone could feel ill taking proactive? the reason I ask is because at the moment every time I use the milk in tea or on cereal shortly afterwards I feel quite nauseous. Many years ago I was put on statins for high cholesterol, felt very poorly on it, mentioned it to the doctors who did all the tests again and decided I did not need to take them after all – aagh! I then read all the hype about proactive products and because I did not want to be put on statins ever again decided to start taking them. I am 67 and take proactive milk, margarine and yoghurt type drinks! I have just assumed because my bad cholesterol hasn’t risen that taking them was working, am I wrong? I do suffer from high blood pressure for which I take medication. I do swim 2/3 times a week.

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 25, 2015 at 9:27 am
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      Hi M – I would feel ill after eating something as processed as these proactive products! Maybe you have a smart body trying to tell you something?!

      These products will lower cholesterol but:
      1) This post may surprise you (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2010/11/cholesterol-heart-disease-there-is-a-relationship-but-its-not-what-you-think/). HIGHER cholesterol is associated with LOWER deaths – for men AND women; for heart deaths AND all deaths. Explain that docs….

      2) They lower cholesterol by replacing cholesterol in effect, as this post explains (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/05/replacing-not-lowering-cholesterol-would-be-more-accurate/) – your body is making cholesterol. Do you trust it to make the cholesterol it needs or do you think God/evolution made a mistake and you need plant cholesterol instead?!

      3) If you decide that plant cholesterol is better for you than what your body is making (ho ho ho), then you still don’t need to consume proactive products. Go to any health food/supplement store (Holland & Barrett kind of thing) and get some plant sterol tablets – that’s the only thing in these proactive products affecting your cholesterol levels.

      Is your BP really high? i.e. substantially higher than 140/95 – or is it actually quite normal, but the medical profession has redefined normal as high (http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2014/06/diabetes-cholesterol-bp-normal-is-no-longer-normal/) Meds that lower BP can make you sluggish and you may feel better without them.

      The swimming sounds great!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply
  • avatar
    January 24, 2015 at 4:43 am
    Permalink

    Hi dr Zoe
    Thank you for your quick response… I think the cause for my dads 2 heart attacks was probably more to do with smoking a lot, my mums cholestral is about 10.. The dr has prescribed her statins to reduce this which she took for a while but discontinued due to side affects such as pains in joints… I’ve had another blood sample taken and await for my latest results… Hopefully I will speak to shortly… Once again thank you very much… Sorry for asking again but are you saying 7.9 isn’t high???
    Thank you
    Ps.. Are pins and needles in hands and feet and sometimes numbness or part of arm or hand feeling cold or having a burning sensation due to high cholestral??,,

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 24, 2015 at 9:39 am
      Permalink

      Hi Hussain – I’m not a doctor and I give my view/ things I have found/point to information, not advice, so please read/ask others/decide what is best for you.

      Your dad smoking is a pretty key bit of information! Hopefully that will make you different and set you down a different path. The risk for heart disease and smoking is so strong that I would find this reassuring if I were you.

      On the chart on the ‘normal is not normal’ link in the previous message, any figure from 3.5-9.5 is on the normal distribution, so, by definition 7.9 is normal. It’s higher than the current average, but the current average has been distorted by statins – 7.9 would have been pretty close to the average 20 years ago. It’s certainly not a number that would concern me personally in any way.

      There are a couple of other thoughts (not advice!)/things to think about in terms of having slightly above average cholesterol…
      1) Vitamin D is a known nutrient of critical importance in many health conditions – including heart disease. Vitamin D is made by the body with cholesterol (it’s one of the many vital functions of cholesterol). When sun shines on the skin – cholesterol in the skin membranes is turned into vitamin D. If you are based in the Northern hemisphere (I’ll assume you’re UK based for this bit) then you have not been exposed to much, if any, sunshine since last September. Your cholesterol is therefore as high now to, say, March/April, as it will be all year round because you have not had the chance to make vitamin D. May I suggest that any harm currently being experienced is low vit D? The ‘high’ cholesterol is simply a marker that vit D has not been made.

      2) There is another area of increasing interest to nutritional researchers and heart scientists – why people of Asian origin are suffering relatively more heart disease than their white peers in the same location. If, as your name suggests, you may have darker skin, you need even more sunshine than I do to make vitamin D. The darkest skin humans have lived nearer the equator – where they are best able to tolerate much sunshine without further impact on skin colour and the fairest skin humans have lived in, say, Scandinavia where they have needed very little sun to start changing skin colour. You may need far more sunshine than I do, to make vitamin D. Your best health tip may be to get plenty of oily fish in your diet (excellent source of vit D) and/or consider taking a supplement of vit (D3) in the winter and/or to get out in the sunshine with bare limbs as much as possible when it does come back to our part of the world.

      More things to think about without worrying about cholesterol hopefully!
      Best wishes – Zoe

      Reply

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