Unusual Salad Dressing Debuts

A new kind of salad dressing that can lower harmful cholesterol levels hit the U.S. market Thursday.

Take Control, made by Unilever Plc unit Lipton, is made with the same ingredients as a type of margarine approved and released onto the market earlier this year.

The salad dressings, which come in a variety of flavors, are low in fat and contain plant products that can lower the levels of "bad" low density lipoprotein (LDL) that clog the arteries.

"The introduction of Take Control salad dressings makes it even easier for consumers to eat the two servings recommended to gain the benefits of Take Control on cholesterol levels," David Blanchard, vice president of research and development for Lipton, said in a statement.

"Consumers can use Take Control spread in the morning with breakfast and the dressings later in the day with lunch or dinner."

A rival brand of salad dressings, made by Johnson and Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products under the Benecol name, was placed on market shelves in June.

Benecol margarine was developed by Finland's Raisio Group Oyj and licensed to McNeil.

Both products contain plant stanol esters, also known as plant sterol esters, which are derived from pine trees, soy and other plants.

"Plant sterols are naturally occurring plant extracts that work as part of the normal digestive process to help block the absorption of cholesterol," Dr. Ernest Schaefer of the lipid metabolism laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

Canadian researchers say they have developed a third margarine product that can lower cholesterol.

Vancouver-based Forbes Medi-Tech has teamed with Swiss drug giant Novartis to produce and market the product as Phytrol.

Written By James Pilcher