The approval will open up the EU's functional foods and dietary supplements markets to the ingredient, already available as a supplement in the US, Israel and SE-Asia. "We believe that CardiaBeat enables the whole sterol-market to advance to the next level, by its unique combinations with monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, and by its capacity to reduce triglycerides and enable optimal fat soluble vitamins absorption" said Ms. Michal Haim-Bravman, marketing manager. "Plant sterol-esters have long been one of the strongest market leaders in the European functional scene. Unfortunately, they have almost reached to the point of being commodities with only limited capacity to create additional value to the consumer," she added. Enzymotec made the application to have novel food status for the oil enriched with phytosterols/phytostanols in May 2005, with approval granted this week. According to market analyst Frost and Sullivan, the European phytosterols and stanols market, dominated by Cognis, ADM and Raisio, was valued at €137.5m ($184.6m) in 2005, and estimates this to reach €294.3m ($395.2m) in 2012, an increase of 114 per cent. The success of the ingredient has mostly been in enriched dairy, namely margarines. However phytosterols are now incorporated into a range of foods and beverages such as yoghurts, milk, sausages, cold cuts, bakery products, and spicy sauces. Numerous clinical trials in controlled settings have reported that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17 per cent, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. The efficacy of the functional foods in real populations was recently confirmed by Dutch scientists. They found that men used significantly more enriched margarine than women, and that the average daily consumption of the phytosterol/-stanol margarines was 15 and 9 grams, respectively. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, reported to be the most specific lipid risk factor for CVD, decreased for the users by 0.29 millimoles per litre after five years. This ratio increased slightly for non-users by 0.26 millimoles per litre of serum. However, only 26 per cent of the users achieved the 10 per cent reductions in total blood cholesterol concentrations that are "claimed by the producers of the phytosterol/-stanol enriched margarines," said the Dutch researchers. The overall net effect in this free-living population was seen as a stabilisation of cholesterol levels, rather than the slight increase observed naturally with age.