Plant stanols may help alleviate asthma symptoms

Plant stanol ester, the active ingredient of Benecol products, is proven to lower cholesterol. Plant stanols may also have other health benefits. A new study examines whether plant stanols can alleviate some symptoms of asthma.

The study launched in spring 2019 examines the effects of plant stanols on asthmatic symptoms. The one-year clinical trial which is being conducted by Maastricht University investigates the impacts of plant stanol ester on asthmatic symptoms in asthmatic subjects with level 2 allergic asthma according to the GINA asthma classification. The study involves 140 subjects allocated either to a plant stanol group consuming three grams plant stanols daily as a food supplement,  or to a placebo group.

The study, led by Professor Jogchum Plat, is being conducted at the Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC),The Netherlands,  and is sponsored by, among others, the Dutch Topsector Life Sciences and Health (LSH).

Researchers at the University of Maastricht showed in a previous clinical study that plant stanol ester enriched yogurts improved the immune function in asthma patients (Brull et al., Am J Clin Nutr 2016). The study showed that the use of plant stanol ester reduced the response of helper Th2 cells causing asthmatic symptoms. The study result indicates that plant stanol ester may help balance the immune response in asthmatics. However, further research is needed to investigate the effects of plant stanol ester on the symptoms of asthma patients. 

- In addition to the cholesterol lowering effect, the new study helps us understand other possible health benefits of plant stanol ester. Besides asthma symptoms and the use of asthma medication, the study monitors the effects of plant stanol ester on blood lipids in asthmatics, says Ingmar Wester, the Raisio Group’s Research Director.

Benecol® products have lowered cholesterol for over 20 years

The cholesterol-lowering efficacy of plant stanol ester, the ingredient in Benecol products, has been shown by over 80 clinical studies. Daily use of the Benecol products lowers cholesterol in 2-3 weeks on average. 

Benecol is a global trademark of Raisio. Plant stanol ester in the Benecol products effectively and permanently reduces cholesterol when used daily. An official EU health claim has been granted to plant stanol ester: Plant stanol ester has been shown to lower cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.


Brull et al. Dietary plant stanol ester consumption improves immune function in asthma patients: results of a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103(2):444-53. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.117531.