Tesco is leading the charge to bring cholesterol-lowering claims to the bread aisle, with oat bran as its weapon of choice. 

It has pipped the major brands by adding the newly proclaimed superfood to a new Tesco White Bread with Oat Bran, which retails at 88p for an 800g loaf and is being rolled out across all stores now.

A spokesman for the retailer said that it planned to import the concept to other bakery products. "It's down to how consumers perceive it," he said. "If it's successful, we'll add brown bread and other items."

Tesco claims that demand for cholesterol-reducing foods has risen by 9% in the last year, with the market now worth £167m annually. The active ingredient in oats is a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan, which works by trapping cholesterol during digestion, keeping it out of the bloodstream.

Bakery category manager Andrew Brocklehurst said: "The bread draws on the same science that makes porridge so effective in reducing cholesterol and helping to maintain a healthy heart."

Three slices of Tesco White Bread with oat bran contain 0.75g of beta-glucan - a quarter of the recommended 3g daily intake.

Cholesterol-reducing ingredients were first introduced via the dairy category with Benecol spread, which was launched in 1999.

The Benecol banner has since been extended across several dairy sectors and other big brands, such as Flora Pro.activ and Danone Activia, have joined it.

Tesco already offers cholesterol-reducing own label yoghurt, probiotic drinks, spread and milk. Oat bran now means it can cut cholesterol in other categories.

The health benefits of oats have been flagged up extensively in recent years, but claims they can reduce cholesterol have only just arrived in cereals, with the launch of Kellogg's Optivita.

Bread is also starting to be used as a platform for other health benefits. Allied Bakeries has added Omega-3 in the form of Kingsmill Head Start, while Ues Yuor Laof from Sparky Brand was launched earlier this year.