Cholesterol-lowering claims are making a debut in the breakfast cereals aisle, thanks to Kellogg's launch of oat bran-based Optivita.
The Berry Oat Crisp and Raisin Oat Crisp boxed lines consist of oats, brown rice, wholewheat, fruit and oat bran, which contains soluble oat fibre beta glucan, said to help to significantly reduce LDL ('bad') cholesterol when eaten daily. They also have no added salt and are low in saturated fat.
Cereal bars will join the range from September, while a dedicated web site offers tips on heart health. The company is spooning out a substantial marketing spend to back the products, including TV and press advertising and sampling.
The launch follows criticism of breakfast cereals' salt and sugar levels in a report from consumer watchdog Which?.
UK corporate communications manager Sam Fulton said coronary heart disease was the UK's biggest killer, and cited British Heart Foundation findings that nearly half of these deaths were due to raised cholesterol, which could be notably reduced with dietary changes. She also said that about a quarter of UK adults skipped breakfast.
"Optivita is very much about making small changes and we know that people would prefer to do that with a breakfast cereal that is tasty rather than one that doesn't taste good," Fulton added.
Beta glucan helps to lower LDL cholesterol by binding to bile acids, preventing the re-absorption of cholesterol in the intestine and promoting the excretion of cholesterol from the body. It also preserves HDL - the body's so-called 'good' cholesterol.
The dairy category has so far led innovation in cholesterol-lowering foods, with milk, yoghurt and spreads at the forefront.
Tropicana Essentials with Benecol appeared in fruit juice chillers at the beginning of this year.