Do plant sterols really lower cholesterol?

how to lower cholesterol
Dietitian Jennifer Dhuri
Dietitian Jennifer Dhuri
Registered Dietician

Consumption of a plant sterol or Beta-sitosterol is an effective way to consistently lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, improve heart health, and is safe to use over a prescribed period.

Today many people are showing sudden increases in blood cholesterol even at a younger age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39% of adults (> 25 years) worldwide have increased total cholesterol concentrations (> 190 mg/dL). Reasons are more than just a medical issue but lifestyle issues like obesity, smoking, drinking, and chronic stress.

Along with a healthy lifestyle habit and healthy diet & exercise, you may still have to add an adjunct solution. Your doctor may prescribe statins if you have high cholesterol, high ldl and /or co-morbidities like diabetes to lower the total cholesterol and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke (American Heart Association).

While statins are highly effective and safe for most people, they have been linked to muscle pain, digestive problems, nausea, and mind fog in some people as per a study by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Plant sterols, on the other hand, are not known to cause side effects when used short-term or in combination to statins. It is a more natural solution which can also be used in conjunction with statins.

Plant sterols are substances that are similar to cholesterol but are made in plants. They're found in the highest amounts in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Beta-sitosterol is a specific type of plant sterol. Many studies show that Beta-sitosterol may help reduce cholesterol levels by curtailing the amount of cholesterol that enters the cells. It can also help reduce swelling in the prostate and other tissues.

Statins work by directly reducing the amount of cholesterol made in the liver. Plant sterols work by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. This combination of statins and plant sterols can lead to a greater reduction in cholesterol levels than doubling the statin dose which in the long run affects the gut health.

    Also, Studies (ncbi) show that taking plant sterols is a safe way to improve heart health issues like:
  • Genetic tendency towards high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia). When used along with a cholesterol-lowering healthy diet, taking plant sterols or Beta-sitosterol reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels.
  • High cholesterol due to poor lifestyle, diet,etc. Taking plant sterols or Beta-sitosterol lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol along with a cholesterol-lowering diet.

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), you need atleast 2 grams of plant sterols and stanols a day to lower your cholesterol. Eating foods that contain at least 2-3 grams of plant sterols daily as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet might help prevent heart disease.

I used Beta Sitosterol by Best Source Nutrition (plant-based supplement) along with a healthy diet and exercise for my clients with high cholesterol & diabetes over a period of 1.5 months to 3 months. Results were a drop in cholesterol levels to almost normal with a drop in ldl levels and triglyceride levels.

Plant sterols or Beta-sitosterol supplement can be an effective natural way for managing high cholesterol.


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