The increasing demand for foods that actively reduce cholesterol levels has prompted Tesco to launch a range of own-label heart healthy foods.

“Heart disease is the main cause of death in Europe and it’s primarily caused by bad diets with food too high in cholesterol which clog the arteries,” said Tesco dairy department spokesman Patrick Keane.

Tesco has suggested that increasing concerns over heart disease have fuelled rapid growth in this market.

According to data from TNS, in the last year demand for cholesterol reducing functional foods has grown by 22% and this sector is now worth an estimated GBP125m (US$215.985m) per year. Tesco said that is expects the market to grow by an additional 25% this year, as the range of products on offer broadens. 

“At Tesco we’ve had a lot of customer interest in cholesterol reducing foods in the last year which is why we’ve now decided to launch our own range,” Keane said.

The first products in the new range, available in stores this week, will include cholesterol reducing yoghurt, probiotic drink, spread and milk.

All of the products in Tesco’s cholesterol reducing range feature a tasteless, odourless ingredient called Reducol, which is made from plant sterols and contains no fats, proteins or carbohydrates.

Keane added: “More and more of our customers are asking for functional foods that not only boost wellbeing but are also said to help prevent various diseases and ailments.

“Recently we have seen a tremendous growth in demand for probiotic drinks which help balance our digestive systems but they have taken a while to gain acceptance by the public. We believe it will be the same case for cholesterol reducing foods, which is why we have decided to set up our own label products.”