Plant sterols are a type of fat that's found in plants. Plant sterols have been used for many years to help reduce the cholesterol in your body, and therefore may also play a role in related health conditions such as heart disease. In this article, we'll discuss what plant sterols are, why they're useful for lowering cholesterol levels, how they work and whether there are any side effects associated with taking them.
What are plant sterols?
Plant sterols are a type of fat that can be found in nuts and seeds. They're also added to foods like bread and spreads. Plant sterols are different from animal fats, which can contribute to heart disease and other metabolic disorders. Plant sterols help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol into your body’s cells. This makes it easier for the liver to remove excess amounts of cholesterol from the blood stream; a natural way to remove cholesterol and a possible alternative to cholesterol-lowering drugs such as satins which come with unwanted side effects. Please note if you are already on statins, we advise you consult with your doctor before making any decision to start supplementing in place of your prescription medication.
How do plant sterols work?
Plant sterols are similar to cholesterol, but they do not enter the bloodstream and are not absorbed by the body. Instead, plant sterols bind to bile acids in the digestive tract and reduce their absorption from food. This means that plant sterols can reduce LDL cholesterol levels without an increase in total cholesterol or triglycerides. They have scientifically proven health claims to substantiate this when you consume 1.5-3g plant sterols/stanols/day and the duration to obtain the effect is up to 2 to 3 weeks.
Are there any side effects to taking plant sterols?
No side effects have been reported with the use of plant sterols. They are naturally occurring compounds found in a wide variety of foods including vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Are there any interactions with food and plant sterols?
Plant sterols are not affected by food, so they can be taken with or without. They also do not appear to be absorbed into the bloodstream until they reach the small intestine. If you take a plant sterol supplement, it will remain in your digestive tract until it is fully digested and excreted from your body.
Taking plant sterols may be a good way to reduce your cholesterol levels, they have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels by up to 30%.
Before deciding if plants sterols are right for you we always advise that you talk with your doctor first.
- 1 tablet maintains normal cholesterol levels
- 3 tablets a day lowers cholesterol levels
- Blocks the absorption of dietary cholesterol
- Can reduce risk of development of coronary heart disease
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.