Phytosterols compete with cholesterol.


Phytosterols are cholesterol for plants. They play a major role in the structure of plant cell membranes, much the same way cholesterol has a role in mammalian cell membranes. These molecules are steroid alcohols, structurally similar to cholesterol.


Where they're found
  • Phytosterols naturally occur in small amounts in vegetable oils (eg, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and olive oil), as well as in nuts (eg, almonds) and fruits1
  • Dietary supplements or foods fortified with plant sterols are probably required to achieve functional levels 
Effects on the body
  • FDA has concluded that foods containing at least 0.4 g/serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 g, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease2
  • Because they have a similar structure, phytosterols compete with dietary cholesterol for cholesterol binding sites in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby interfering with and reducing the overall amount of cholesterol absorbed3
  • Phytosterols do not have any clinically important impact on absorption and metabolism of other steroid compounds such as β-carotene and α-tocopherol (vitamin E)3
NCEP recommended daily intake

Daily intake of 2 to 3 grams per day of plant stanol/sterol esters.4 


Conclusions from the literature

Phytosterols and stanols reduce LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.3 FDA has concluded that foods containing at least 0.4 g/serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 g, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.2

Click here for a list of Smart Balance products containing phytosterols

 


Click here to read the medical literature

References: 1. Ostlund RE Jr. Phytosterols in human nutrition. Annu Rev Nutr. 2002;22:533–549. 2. US Food and Drug Administration. Federal Register 65 FR 54685-54739, September 8, 2000 – Food Labeling: Health Claims; Plant Sterol/Stanol Esters and Coronary Heart Disease; Interim Final Rule. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/LabelClaims/HealthClaimsMeetingSignificantScientificAgreementSSA/ucm074747.htm. 3. Earnest CP, Mikus CR, Lemieux I, et al. Examination of encapsulated phytosterol ester supplementation on lipid indices associated with cardiovascular disease. Nutrition. 2007;23:625–633. 4. National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel. Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III): Final Report. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; September 2002. NIH publication no. 02-5215.