- Phytosterols Linus Pauling Institute
- List of Foods high in phytosterols US Department of Agriculture
- 2005, GRAS notification for plant phytosterols for use in egg products including egg whites, and egg substitutes US Food and Drug Administration
- Wu T et al, 2009, The effects of phytosterols/stanols on blood lipid profiles: a systematic review with meta-analysis PubMed
- Moruisi KG et al, 2006, Phytosterols/stanols lower cholesterol concentrations in familial hypercholesterolemic subjects: a systematic review with meta-analysis PubMed
- Genser B et al, 2012, Plant sterols and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis PubMed
- Gupta AK et al, 2011, Role of phytosterols in lipid-lowering: current perspectives QJM
- 2010, Plant Sterols and Blood Cholesterol Lowering Health Canada
- 2009, Blood cholesterol reduction health claims on phytosterols can now be judged against EFSA new scientific advice European Food Safety Authority
- Plana N et al, 2008, Plant sterol-enriched fermented milk enhances the attainment of LDL-cholesterol goal in hypercholesterolemic subjects PubMed
What are phytosterols?
Phytosterols, which include plant sterols and stanols, are plant-derived lipids similar to cholesterol.
Name origin: from the Greek phyt = a plant.
Foods Rich in Phytosterols
Foods naturally rich in phytosterols include unrefined sesame and corn oil, rice bran oil, whole grains, sunflower seeds, Brussel’s sprouts, rye bread, nuts and legumes .
Examples of foods enriched with plant sterols and stanols: certain spreads, margarines, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, dark chocolate, salad dressings and orange juice .
Phytosterols decrease the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine .
Non-prescription oral phytosterol supplements containing beta-sitosterol without prescription are available.
The minimal intake of phytosterols that can have beneficial health effects is about 1 g/day and the maximal effect can be achieved by about 2-3 g/day [1,8]. Consuming foods naturally high in phytosterols rarely provides more than 0.5 g phytosterols per day . 1 tablespoon of phytosterols-enriched margarine can provide 1.3 g of phytosterols .
Phytosterols in doses about 2 g/day are EFFECTIVE in:
- Decreasing total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in individuals with increased cholesterol levels [1,4,5,10]. Daily intake of 2 grams of phytosterols was associated with 10% decrease of LDL levels, in average [1,5,8,9]; intake greater than 2-3 g/day has not been associated with further LDL decrease . Cholesterol-lowering effect was sustained for up to 85 weeks . In individuals on statin therapy (to lower LDL cholesterol), phytosterols in doses 2-3 g/day can further decrease LDL levels by up to 10% .
There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the effectiveness of supplements containing beta-sitosterol in prevention or treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia  or cancer .
There seems to be NO EVIDENCE about phytosterols intake and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke) [6,7].
Phytosterols Safety: Toxicity, Side Effects
Phytosterols added to foods and ingested at doses up to 3 g/day are Generally Recognized As Safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) . Still, these supplements are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, since their safety in these periods has not been tested.
Side effects may include nausea, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation .
Who should avoid phytosterols?
Individuals with a rare genetic disease sitosterolemia should avoid foods with added phytosterols in order to prevent premature atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) .
- FATTY ACIDS
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
- Linoleic acid
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
- Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs)
- Long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs)
- Very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs)
- Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
- Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
- Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
- Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO)
- Isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO)
- Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS)
- Raffinose, stachyose, verbascose
- SOLUBLE FIBER:
- Acacia (arabic) gum
- Beta mannan
- Carageenan gum
- Carob or locust bean gum
- Fenugreek gum
- Gellan gum
- Glucomannan or konjac gum
- Guar gum
- Karaya gum
- Psyllium husk mucilage
- Resistant starches
- Tara gum
- Tragacanth gum
- Xanthan gum
- INSOLUBLE FIBER:
- Chitin and chitosan
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
- Vitamin A - Retinol and retinal
- Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
- Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 - Niacin
- Vitamin B5 - Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7 - Biotin
- Vitamin B9 - Folic acid
- Vitamin B12 - Cobalamin
- Vitamin C - Ascorbic acid
- Vitamin D - Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol
- Vitamin E - Tocopherol
- Vitamin K - Phylloquinone
- Flavanols: Proanthocyanidins
- Flavanones: Hesperidin
- Flavonols: Quercetin
- Flavones: Diosmin, Luteolin
- Isoflavones: daidzein, genistein
- Caffeic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
- Tannic acid
- Alcohol chemical and physical properties
- Alcoholic beverages types (beer, wine, spirits)
- Denatured alcohol
- Alcohol absorption, metabolism, elimination
- Alcohol and body temperature
- Alcohol and the skin
- Alcohol, appetite and digestion
- Neurological effects of alcohol
- Alcohol, hormones and neurotransmitters
- Alcohol and pain
- Alcohol, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke
- Women, pregnancy, children and alcohol
- Alcohol tolerance
- Alcohol, blood glucose and diabetes
- Alcohol intolerance, allergy and headache
- Alcohol and psychological disorders
- Alcohol and vitamin, mineral and protein deficiency
- Alcohol-drug interactions
- Moderate, heavy, binge drinking
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- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcohol and gastrointestinal tract
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Long-term effects of excessive alcohol drinking
- Alcohol craving and alcoholism
- Alcohol withdrawal