Coke to Launch Cholesterol-Reducing Orange Juice

Health - Reuters

Coke to Launch Cholesterol-Reducing Orange Juice
Fri Oct 24, 1:29 PM ET Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

By Paul Simao

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Soft drink maker Coca-Cola Co., which is battling rival PepsiCo Inc. for control of the growing health drinks market, said on Friday it was preparing to launch a cholesterol-reducing orange juice.

The world’s largest soft drink maker will begin rolling out Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise on Monday in the United States. It expects the drink to be widely available throughout the nation by the Thanksgiving holiday in November.

The product will contain plant sterols, an additive that has been used in cholesterol-fighting margarine and other food products. Plant sterols have been shown to cut bad cholesterol levels by about 10 percent when used consistently.

More than 41 million Americans have high cholesterol, a key risk factor for heart disease, according to the American Heart Association (news - web sites). Another 60 million or so have moderately elevated levels of the fatty substance.

“That is a pretty good customer base,” Coca-Cola spokesman Ray Crockett said. “People with moderately high cholesterol will find this product will help them reduce their cholesterol significantly.”

Crockett said the company had conducted a clinical trial to back up the drink’s health claims and had obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) to market the drink. Results of the clinical test will be available next month.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola first revealed its plans to launch Heart Wise in an interview with Beverage Digest. John Sicher, the trade publication’s editor, said the drink was on the cutting edge of a new wave of innovative beverages.

“This is real innovation in that it provides a true functional benefit,” Sicher said. “It uses a beverage as a delivery system for an ingredient that will really help people.”

Consumers would have to drink two 8-ounce servings of Heart Wise per day to get the suggested daily 2 grams of sterols needed to lower cholesterol, according to Coca-Cola. Each serving contains about 110 calories.

The product will have to be kept refrigerated.

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