Cholesterol is necessary for proper body function and overall great health, but having too much of it can pose a problem. Our bodies produce cholesterol, but it is also found in the foods we consume as well. When it comes to reducing LDL—or “bad”—cholesterol, there are natural substances called plant sterols which may be able to provide some benefits.
What are plant sterols?
Plant sterols are molecules that are natural components of plants, and they can provide a variety of positive effects which may help enhance your health. Plant sterols also go by the name of phytosterols, and they are found in many different kinds of foods, including fruit, vegetables, legumes and more; additionally, it's possible to boost your intake of these nutrients through supplemental form. Many people use plant sterols to help lower cholesterol and provide support for fighting cardiovascular disease and preventing strokes. Some of the most common types of phytosterols found in foods are campesterol, sitosterol, anthrasterol and stigmasterol.
How do they work?
Since they possess a structure that is similar to that of cholesterol, plant sterols work to prevent your gut from absorbing cholesterol. When you consume foods that are rich with sterols or take a supplement, the sterols bind to cholesterol receptors in your digestive tract, preventing your body from absorbing the cholesterol and instead passing it out through your stool, according to Dr. Oz. Since your body is excreting a significant amount of cholesterol through bodily waste without being absorbed, this means that the amount of cholesterol in your blood will become lower, specifically LDL cholesterol. Plant sterols do not have a significant impact on HDL cholesterol, or the "good" kind.
Where can you find them?
Plant sterols can be found naturally in a myriad of whole, fresh foods like asparagus, vegetable oil, nuts, flaxseed, legumes and wheat germ, to name a few. In addition, foods and beverages like margarine, orange juice and certain cereals are sometimes fortified with these sterols. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may be able to reduce your LDL cholesterol by over 10 percent if you consume at least 2 grams of plant sterols per day. To get a natural boost of these nutrients, try eating some of the foods mentioned above or taking a plant sterol supplement that can also promote healthier cholesterol.
If you are thinking about taking plant sterols, you should talk to your doctor to be sure they are appropriate for you. Many plant sterol supplements are derived from soy or pine products, so you should avoid sterols if you have an allergy to any of these ingredients. Plant sterol supplements also come formulated without the use of these ingredients, so it's best to do some research to find the best supplement for you. Children should not take plant sterols, and those who have asthma should be cautious when them as well, as they can exacerbate breathing issues if derived from soy. It's important to remember that plant sterols are most effective at improving cholesterol when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
At eVitamins we have plant sterol supplements and many more healthy living products to help you achieve optimum wellness. Come back next time for more health news!