What Are Phytosterols and Can They Lower Cholesterol
What Are Phytosterols and Can They Lower Cholesterol?
Today, approximately 100 million adults in the U.S.—nearly one-half of the adult population—have higher than desirable levels of cholesterol.
Phytosterols is a term widely used for “plant sterols” and “stanol esters”. These natural, cholesterol-like molecules found in plant foods have been studied for more than 50 years, and shown to significantly lower cholesterol levels.
Since phytosterols have a remarkably similar structure to cholesterol, they compete with cholesterol for absorption in your intestines, essentially blocking cholesterol from being absorbed. As a result, unabsorbed cholesterol and plant sterols are eliminated from the body and blood cholesterol levels are reduced.
Research shows that foods or supplements containing at least 0.65 gram per serving of plant sterol esters, taken twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
And, meta-analyses of clinical trials indicate about a 10% reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when phytosterols are consumed at the dose of 2 g per day.
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol levels and don’t want to rely on harmful statins, give phytosterols a try. Just be sure you reach at least 1.3 grams per day from your diet, or through a combination of diet and supplementation.
Good food sources of phytosterols include whole grains, plant oils, nuts, seeds, and legumes.