Plant Sterols and Cholesterol

Even though plant sterols have been around for a long time, we’re surprised at how relatively few people are aware of how useful they can be in helping manage cholesterol levels, more specifically, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). We’re trying to spread the word! Pass on these FAQ’s to a friend or relative who you think might benefit from this terrific natural ingredient, which we offer in Purity Products’ Triple Action Omega 3 Formula, along with fish oil, vitamin D and CoQ10.
What are plant sterols and plant sterol esters?
Plant sterols are fat-like compounds whose chemical structures are very similar to cholesterol. They are naturally present in everyday foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains and cooking oils.
By modifying the structure of plant sterols to form plant sterol esters, they become more soluble in fats or oils.
How do plant sterols lower cholesterol levels in my blood?
In the gut, plant sterols compete with cholesterol for incorporation into the micelles resulting in a decreased absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream. This is due to the fact, that plant sterols have chemical structures very similar to cholesterol. Opposite to cholesterol, only small amounts of plant sterols are absorbed into the blood stream. They are effectively excreted via the gut. The effect is somewhat dose-dependent. An intake of at least 0.8 g sterol/day is necessary to achieve significant cholesterol reductions.
Do plant sterols work best for people with moderately elevated cholesterol or do they offer benefits for people with high cholesterol as well?
Plant sterols are a good cholesterol-lowering option for people with mildly to moderately elevated cholesterol levels who want to manage their blood lipids by dietary interventions. But, they can also provide additional benefits for individuals taking cholesterol-lowering medications. However, patients under medical treatment for cholesterol reduction should consult their doctor before using food with plant sterols.
Are plant sterols safe?
Plant sterols and plant sterol esters are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are clinically proven to lower total blood cholesterol levels by 6-10% and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 8 – 15%. Plant sterols and plant sterol esters and their effect in reducing serum cholesterol levels have been researched over the past fifty years and confirmed in more than 150 clinical trials.†
Can I take plant sterol products to replace my cholesterol-lowering medication?
No. Plant Sterols are not meant to replace cholesterol-lowering medications, nor act as a substitute. People with cholesterol medication should discuss their individual needs with their doctor to find the optimum solution. Many people with cholesterol medication can benefit from using plant sterol products in addition to their medication.
What happens if I stop eating plant sterol products?
Your cholesterol levels will return to the previous level.
Can my cholesterol drop too much by eating plant sterol products?
No. Plant sterols and plant sterol esters will not reduce your cholesterol to such an extent that you may have a deficiency – your body will produce enough cholesterol to balance its needs.
†Dietary supplements containing at least 400 mg per serving of plant sterols, taken twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 800 mg, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

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