Phytosterols


Phytosterol-Content-of-Selected-Foods

By: Nikki Nies

Phytosterols are plant based sterols that have been critically acclaimed and are recommended to be a regularly seen on plates.  Three of the most abundant phytosterols are beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol.  In the past, phytosterols have been up to at least 1g/day of one’s diet, however, with the progression of less natural foods, phytosterol consumption has taken a back burner to other macronutrients, such as fats.

Phytosterols are structured similarly to cholesterol, however, they contain substitutions at C24 position.   Not only do phytosterols inhibit the absorption of cholesterol, but it has been found that foods that have been enriched with at least 0.8 g of phytosterols are more likely to lower LDL cholesterol levels.  Due to the similar structure to cholesterol, phytosterols compete with cholesterol in the digestive system. Thankfully, higher consumption of phytosterols block’s cholesterol absorption and reduces one’s cholesterol levels.

Sources of phytosterols: unrefined vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts and legumes.  Truthfully, how’s your phytosterol consumption?

The effectiveness of phytosterols is so strong that The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends people with high cholesterol consume 2 grams of phytosterols each day.

The bottom line: Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables aren’t only good for overall health, but have the added plus of containing phytosterols.  How much phytosterol rich foods do you consume on a regular basis?  Are you taking advantage of their added health benefits?

Sources:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7596226

The New Heart Healthy Diet Buzzword: Phytosterols

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/phytosterols-sterols-stanols.aspx

http://cholesterol.about.com/od/cholesterolloweringfoods/a/phytosterol.htm

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/sterols/

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