Health Benefits of Plant Sterols

Written by
Published in August 2008

( Let's face it - everyone enjoys food that tastes good. It's an added bonus if that great-tasting food can also be good for your health. Did you know that plant sterols have been studied for over 50 years for their cholesterol-lowering ability? These chemical compounds work to lower total cholesterol levels by blocking the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the body’s digestive tract. Animal cholesterol and plant sterols are similar in composition, which allows plant sterols to "trick" the body into processing them instead of cholesterol. Eventually this can lead to lower total blood cholesterol levels. You could be improving your cholesterol level each time you eat!

Where are the Plant Sterols?

Plant sterols are part of a plant’s cell membrane or structure. They are naturally found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and breakfast cereals in small amounts. Unfortunately, in order to reap the rewards of plant sterols' cholesterol-lowering benefits, you would need to eat a lot of these foods.  For example, in order to get 2 grams of plant sterols, you need to eat 100 pounds of vegetables! Thankfully, plant sterols have been added to many foods, including margarine, mayonnaise, orange juice, beverages, and snack foods.

The recommended amount of plant sterols to improve your cholesterol is two servings per day with meals - a total goal of 800 milligrams per day. Most products that are fortified with plant sterols meet this recommendation, but make sure you read the nutrition label. You want to look for foods that have 400 milligrams of plant sterols per serving. Here are some products that contain plant sterols:

Where do you find plant sterols?

Benecol Spread
Benecol Light Spread
Promise Activ Spread
Smart Balance Margarine
Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise Orange Juice
Kroger Active Lifestyle Fat Free Milk
Health Valley Heart Wise Cereal
Nature Valley Healthy Heart Chewy Granola Bars
Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat Bread
Right Direction Cookies
Cocavia Milk Chocolate Bar
VitaTops Muffin Tops

The Bottom Line

Eating foods rich in plant sterols is beneficial in lowering your cholesterol level, but it is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. You still have to keep an eye on your saturated fat and cholesterol intake, and don't forget to keep up with your exercise plan. Fortunately, many of the margarine spreads fortified with plant sterols are available in light versions. Over time and with regular use of products that contain plant sterols, you can lower your cholesterol levels just by eating the right foods!

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Related Articles

Stay Connected with
Facebook YouTube
Twitter Podcast
Instagram Newsletter
Pinterest Google

Health Poll
Did you drink less alcohol this month?
No, about the same
Do not drink alcohol
Yes, considerably
Yes, somewhat

Member Area
Eating Smart
Cooking Smart
Compare Packaged Foods
Super Foods & Supplements
Health & Nutrition
Life Stages & Sports
Multimedia & Tools
My Account
Free Nutrition Newsletter
GoUnDiet Book
About GoUnDiet
Free Tools
About Us
Advertise with Us
Privacy Policy
Contact Us
Press Room
In the News
Advertise with Us
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
HONcode accreditation seal.
Copyright © 1997-2017 HealthCastle Nutrition Inc. All rights reserved.