Plant Sterols: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Interactions

Plant Sterols: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Interactions

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What are the Benefits of Plant Sterols?

  • May lower cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease and heart attacks;
  • Some men uses for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH);
  • May decrease the risk of acquiring cancer;

Among the best-known nutrients to be good for the heart are phytosterols. Also called plant sterols, they are popularly believed to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Plant sterols are usually added to some dairy products and even margarine.

Basically, plant sterols are used as supplement ingredients for their heart-health benefits. They may also be effective in reducing the risk of cancer development.

Let us talk about the plant sterols’ first claimed benefit—which is having an impact on the cholesterol levels.

Phytosterols are known to have the capacity to lower bad cholesterol levels. Some studies claim that consuming around 2 or 3 grams of plant sterols a day within 3 to 4 weeks may decrease bad cholesterol levels by approximately 10%.  (1, 2)

It is believed that plant sterols work by inhibiting the cholesterol from being absorbed by the body. (1)

The abovementioned effect is beneficial for patients with high cholesterol. This may have the same effect on both people who are taking drugs to lower cholesterol and those who do not. (1, 2)

There are also studies claiming that plant sterols may reduce the risk of cancer.

Animal studies revealed that these nutrients may contain anti-cancer properties, which could inhibit the spread and growth of tumors. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Also, more research showed that those who take much more phytosterols have a higher chance of avoiding different kinds of cancer, such as ovarian, breast, lung, and stomach. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Despite the available studies backing up this claim, more human research is necessary to prove that plant sterols can truly prevent cancer development in humans.

There are other health benefits that are associated with plant sterols but have not been included in our list due to the lack of research basis. For instance, it is said that these substances could also help fight obesity and metabolic syndrome. As of now, more studies are needed to support these.

What are Plant Sterols?

Plant sterols are substances that are produced in plants. They are found in the plants’ cell membranes and act like cholesterols in humans. In short, these are molecules that function like our own cholesterols.

You can usually find a high amount of plant sterols in foods like seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. The usual kinds of phytosterols that you can consume in your foods are stigmasterol, sitosterol, and campesterol.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed food manufacturers to add plant sterol esters to food products. Therefore, it is not surprising that these are present in some kinds of margarine. This is because of the evidence supporting the claim that phytosterols can help decrease the risk of acquiring coronary heart disease (CHD). This is attributed to these substances’ capacity to lower blood cholesterol levels.

How Does Plant Sterol Work?

The resemblance of plant sterols with cholesterol does a big wonder for the body. Instead of absorbing the bad cholesterol, these substances are being taken in. This way, the cholesterol levels can be regulated easily, since the amount of cholesterol that the body absorbs is limited.

How Do I Take Plant Sterol?

Plant sterols are taken orally. In addition, they are commonly taken with a low-fat diet to maximise the effect.

The best way to get as much plant sterols as possible is by eating foods that contain these substances. Your diet should contain whole grains, vegetables, seeds, fruit, nuts, and fish. You can also consume fortified food products, including breakfast cereals, yoghurt, milk, and margarine.

There are recommended dosages on how to consume plant sterols. These are based on scientific research.

To experience how plant sterols can lower your cholesterol levels, adults are advised to consume it at the recommended dosage of 2 to 3 grams daily. Eating more than this amount would not give any higher advantage.

For those who have a history of familial hypercholesterolemia, or being at risk of inheriting high cholesterol, it is recommended for adults to take 1.6 to 1.8 grams daily within 8 to 26 weeks. On the other hand, children (from 6 to 16 years old) are advised to consume 1.6 to 2.3 grams each day.

Can I Take Them Along with Vitamins or Medicines?

As of now, there is limited information on the possible interactions that plant sterols may have with drugs or vitamins.

One of the known interactions is with Pravastatin (Pravachol). The effect is actually a minor one, which is the decrease of how much plant sterols are absorbed into the body. As a result, this may reduce the effectiveness of the substances on lowering cholesterol levels.

It is necessary that you talk with your physician first before combining phytosterols with Pravastatin or any medication.

Are Plant Sterols Safe?

When taken orally, plant sterols are most likely safe for the majority of the people. However, just like any other supplements, they may cause side effects. Among its known side effects are fat in the stool or diarrhoea.

A special warning is given to people who are suffering from sitosterolemia, a fat-storage condition. Taking plant sterols may worsen the disease. This is because plant sterols have the tendency to build up in the tissue and blood of the patients. As a result, this may lead to heart disease.

Another reported side effect is the worsening of the liver function of people with short bowel syndrome. According to the observation, those who received

plant sterol nutrients experienced liver deterioration. Then, when they stopped taking plant sterols, their livers improved. Although there is no evidence that the phytosterols were really responsible for the liver function decline, people with short bowel syndrome are advised not to take plant sterols.

Like other supplements, breast-feeding and pregnant women are advised to stay on the safe side by avoiding plant sterol usage. Research is yet to confirm its safety to infants.

To make sure plant sterols will help you become healthier, ask your doctor’s recommendation first before taking any supplement.

PROSTATE PLUS™ – Ultimate Prostate Health Formula*

Specifically formulated for men to support healthy prostate function, reduce bladder discomfort and promote urinary tract health.*

30 SCIENTIFICALLY-BACKED INGREDIENTS COMBINED IN OPTIMUM DOSE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT FORMULATED FOR:

  • HEALTHY PROSTATE*
    Formulated with premium natural ingredients to promote prostate health and function.*
  • BLADDER DISCOMFORT*
    Helps reduce bladder discomfort.*
  • URINARY TRACT*
    Helps reduce the consistent urge “to go”.*
    Contains Saw Palmetto, Zinc and Pumpkin Seed.
PROSTATE+ ULTIMATE HEALTH FORMULA

One reply on “Plant Sterols: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Interactions

  • Milton Sharp

    Thаnks fоr this article! Whаt dо yоu fellаs think аbоut this рrоgrаm? I think оf using it. Any thоughts аre welcоme.

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