Plant Sterols (2009) & Cholesterol

Learn more about managing High Cholesterol

Plant sterols are naturally-occuring steroid compounds found in plants and are frequently used to enrich foods or are available as dietary supplements. Good sources of these compounds (also known as phytosterols) are found in nuts, cereals, vegetables, fruits and berries. Carefully designed vegetarian diets can produce high levels of phytosterols in the diet.

Phytosterols were first found to help reduce cholesterol as early as 1953, and have been marketed in many forms since then.

Researchers have found that the greatest benefit is when plant sterols are consumed in smaller amounts more often during the day rather than in one larger amount daily. In this study, the scientists tested giving one group of study participants 1 larger dose each morning and another group, three smaller doses daily.

The study began with a control phase wherein the subjects were on a precise weight-maintaining diet and no supplementary plant sterols. In the second phase, they were on the same diet but had 1.8 grams of plant sterols added at breakfast. In the third phase, again the same diet, but this time 1.8 grams divided 3 ways for each of three meals.

It was found that with consumption three times a day LDL cholesterol dropped by 6%.

Researchers: Lichtenstein, and colleagues at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, MA.

Published European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009