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Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Many manufacturers have started adding them to foods. In some people, however, sterols and stanols are absorbed at an increased rate and can overwhelm the cholesterol synthesis system. This can lead to even higher cholesterol levels and be dangerous. If your doctor has advised sterol/stanol supplementation for your cholesterol, please make sure you have your cholesterol/lipid levels rechecked after starting therapy. Whether plant sterols should be used in individuals with normal cholesterol levels who have other risk factors for coronary heart disease has not been determined.
Because plant sterols are chemically similar in structure to cholesterol, the human body tends to absorb them and pass cholesterol our of the body as waste. In other words, plant sterols block cholesterol absorption in the intestinal track. Consuming an adequate amount of plant sterol every day can help lower blood cholesterol by an average of 6%-10%.
Well-designed studies have demonstrated that supplementation of beta-sitosterol in the diet decreases total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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