Use This Bread Spread to Lower LDL

Medically reviewed in October 2021

Lower your LDL by spreading this on your bagel in the morning: a plant-sterol-enhanced spread.

When people in a study added 2 grams of plant sterol spread to their daily diets, the effect was exactly that. Their bad cholesterol dropped anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent.

The power of plants
Plant sterols and stanols are potent little chemicals found naturally in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. They help lower LDL cholesterol by interfering with the body's ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Consuming plant sterols while taking a statin may provide even bigger benefits. In the study, the two together dropped LDL cholesterol an additional 10 percent. That's some powerful heart protection! (Could there be something bad in butter substitutes? Get the full story.)

Beyond cholesterol
Emerging studies suggest that plant sterols and stanols could end up doing much more for your health than lowering your LDL levels. A combination of plant sterols and omega-3s may help fight inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease, according to research. And people who eat a diet rich in plant sterols may have lower rates of lung, stomach, breast and prostate cancer as well. These little plant compounds also act as age-fighting antioxidants.

Plant sterols and stanols are added to certain food products—like bread spreads, salad dressings and yogurts—during processing. Check labels.

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