Pass the Chips

MARCH 01, 2005

Researchers from Brandeis University may have found tortilla chips to lower cholesterol. The investigators said that frying chips in oil with phytosterol—a plant ingredient—can soak up cholesterol without harming the taste. In a study of 10 participants, the researchers found that low-density lipoprotein (LDL; "bad") cholesterol was reduced by an average of 15%. The study had the participants eat two 1-oz servings of phytosterol-enriched tortilla chips for 4 weeks.

The researchers also reported no changes in the participants'highdensity lipoprotein, and a 10% reduction in total cholesterol. The spiked chips worked by blocking the body's absorption of LDL as foods were eaten along with the chips. The investigators'method of extending sterols'cholesterol-lowering benefits had the sterols being heated and cooled so that they recrystallize in a form compatible with fried foods.