Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Benecol review - "your simple, delicious partner in cholesterol reduction"

I've told you before about some of the great campaigns I've been involved in for BzzAgent, who send you through free products to try out in return for honest feedback and helping spread the word about what you thought. (If you want to become a Bzz agent yourself, you can sign up here.)  Well, this time, the brand in the hotseat is Benecol so they sent me an information pack including a voucher to try out one of the products in the range for free.

Well , I dashed off to the supermarket with my voucher in my purse and was pleasantly surprised by the large number of Benecol products available. I knew they made a margarine-type spread but was surprised to see they actually have three varieties - a Buttery Taste Spread and an Olive Spread , both perfect for spreading but also for baking and frying, and a low-fat Light Spread that you can use on toast, in sandwiches or on crispbread with a clear conscience ! They also have a Cream Cheese Style Spread, Low-Fat Yoghurt 4-Packs (available in a Tropical Fruits variety pack (Mango, Peach, Passion Fruit & Mandarin and Pineapple) and a Summer Fruits variety pack (Strawberry, Cherry, Apricot and Raspberry)), Dairy Free Mini Drinks and Yoghurt Drinks, which is what I chose to try.

Up to now, I've been drinking a bottle of Actimel a day as a quick breakfast before heading off to work, so it was dead easy to swap over to a bottle of Benecol instead. The yoghurt drinks come in a wide range of flavours : Original, Strawberry, Peach & Apricot, Pineapple, a new Raspberry flavour and a lower-calorie light variety. They all taste really nice, have a lovely light creamy texture and are a great way to start the day.

Benecol's big selling point is that they claim to be "your simple, delicious partner in cholesterol reduction". They explain : "Benecol® foods are the only range of foods to contain Plant Stanols which work with the body to significantly reduce "bad" cholesterol by partially blocking cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. And while cholesterol is a major risk factor in the development of heart disease, making just a few minor adjustments to your daily diet can bring results within 2-3 weeks." Benecol back this up with some research results : "The plant stanols in Benecol® foods are proven to lower your cholesterol and work alongside your healthy diet! Consuming 1.5 to 2.4g of plant stanols a day has been proven to lower cholesterol as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Heart disease has multiple risk factors; you may need to alter more than one to cut overall risk. Do not consume more than 3g of plant stanols a day. Consuming more has no additional benefit and is not recommended. May not be nutritionally suitable for pregnant/breastfeeding women and children under five years old. If you are taking cholesterol lowering medication then consult with your GP."

Well, as I've had problems with high blood pressure ever since my first pregnancy, my doctor's been keeping a close check on my blood pressure and has started regular blood tests including cholesterol checks. As the levels were a little on the high side, he said I should try to reduce my cholesterol levels, and if I couldn't, I may need to consider taking tablets. Over the three months between my last blood tests, I decided to leave things pretty much as they were, just taking a Benecol yoghurt drink every morning, to see if it would make any difference on its own.

I had high hopes but was actually quite gutted to see that my results came back basically identical. Talking to my doctor, he said that cholesterol is actually quite complicated - you have the cholesterol you get orally from your diet, which could be reduced quite efficiently by changing your diet or perhaps consuming Benecol products, but there is also a second type of cholesterol which is created by your body, and that type is much harder to control. He said that he wasn't overly convinced by Benecol, although it could work for some people, particularly if they had a very unhealthy diet beforehand with lots of butter and lard, for example, which isn't my case.

So, I'm not sure now. I'll still keep on taking the Benecol yoghurt drinks in the morning because they can't do my cholesterol any harm and they do taste nice, but I think I'd be better off sticking to olive oil rather than switching to Benecol spread for cooking (and I don't use margarine). I may switch over to Benecol yoghurts too but need to calculate the total quantity of plant stanols this will represent. I will also make a concerted effort to drink Benecol every single day, to see if this helps, because there were a few days every now and then when I'd run out before the end of the week when we went shopping again so this may have played a role.

If you've used Benecol products and have monitored your cholesterol levels, I'd be really keen to hear your views !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : Benecol yoghurt drinks £3.47 for 6 x 67.5g

for more information :

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. Interesting article. Keep meaning to buy this for hubby.

  2. I also have been chosen for this campaign. I liked the drinks, they taste nice. I don't monitor my cholesterol though, and I don<t know if I have any problem with it.

    I think the drinks are pretty expensive though, and they're small. So for me, having no cholesterol problem, I don't think I will purchase again, unless they're on offer.

  3. I don't have to monitor my cholesterol level (yet!!) but I sometimes buy Benecol products, only though is they are on offer, as I would agree with Ms Bubu, these products can be quite expensive.

  4. I have not tried these but they look tasty and a healthy option to chose!

  5. I recently got to try these products out through BzzAgent .. I found that the yogurt drinks had a really chalky aftertaste.

  6. I am loving this approach to getting my bad cholesterol down, I am borderline high and in April we will see if my way works, WITHOUT DRUGS! The hardest part of all this has been weening myself off of cigarettes, I was a 2 pack smoker, now down to 7 to 9 cigs a day, hope to be smoke free asap! Also the diet I had myself on was bland and boring but now on the Benecol site they have delicious recipes that are low fat/low cholesterol that I can cook as a family dinner which makes life much easier for ALL of us and the dishes are absolutely delicious! Benecol says to use with a proper low fat diet so if any of you aren't following a low fat diet then you can't expect Benecol to work as it should!

  7. UPDATE: The Benecol spread, I am having an allergic reaction too unfortunately.... started last night, itching all over my body and my tongue swelled slightly....I really had high hopes for this approach to lowering my bad cholesterol too. I bought 4 containers of it and now will not be able to use frustrating!
    From all I had read I should of not of had any reaction to the Plant Stanol Esters in the Benecol spread, this is not making any sense to me. I am still itching this morning, my tongue is not as swollen as last night. I will NOT be consuming Benecol again.

    Started Benecol 1-10-2013,consumed 2 tablespoons cooked with food, hour later my legs started itching then from there my entire body started itching and my tongue started swelling. I did not seek medical advice last night but I did report all this to my doctor this morning.
    I bought 4 containers that I will now be unable to use.
    I also have reported this to far no response from them.

  8. same problem here with the itching all over, never had an alergy in my life until i took benecol. it is 2 months since i took it and i am still itching. constantly taking antihistamines, will be going to the doctor in a few days. never again will i touch their products.


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