Foods rich in plant sterols

Foods rich in plant sterols

What are plant stanols and what are they for?

Plant sterols or phytosterols are a type of plant food components that, ingested on a regular basis, have properties to lower bad cholesterol levels.

How many phytosterols does the diet contain?

sesame seeds
Sesame oil and sesame seeds are foods with a great amount of phytosterols

It is estimated that people ingest between 100 and 500 mg of phytosterols daily in the diet. However, this amount can vary considerably depending on the type of feeding.

For example, according to an article published in the journal ALAN “Efeitos therapeuticê dos dos fitosteróis e fitostanóis na cholesterolemia”, by S. Martins, H. Silva. and M. Kiyomi ito, the more presence of vegetables in the diet, especially oils, nuts and oilseeds, the greater the contribution of plant phytosterols.

Thus, the western diet usually contains 100-300 mg of phytosterols per day; Northern Europe 200-300 mg / day; and the vegetarian and Japanese diet between 300 and 450 mg a day.

Foods with phytosterols: nutraceuticals and functional foods

Currently foods that are rich in phytosterols are being studied as possible nutraceuticals, as they can become an aid to lower cholesterol.

There are also numerous products to which phytosterols are added, which are advertised as functional foods, beneficial for lowering cholesterol. These products usually contain a dose of phytosterols much higher than that of natural foods.

Oils rich in phytosterols

Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil is one of the phytosterol-richest oil

In order from highest to lowest phytosterols content, we find the following oils:

Seeds or nuts rich in phytosterols

Among them we have, for example:

Other foods very rich in plant stanols

Benecol is a registered trademark of a dairy product intended to lower cholesterol. Its effectiveness is based on the inclusion of plant stanols

Among them we have, for example:

  • Cherimoya: It is the food that contains more campesterol and stigmasterol
  • Buckwheat: Another delicious food in campesterol and stigmasterol. Other foods with great richness in campesterol are garlic, onions, peppers, oranges, cucumbers, etc. Garlic, onions, soursop or cauliflower are also rich in stigmasterol.
  • Wheat: It is the richest food in ergosterol. Other foods that contain this sterol are soy, lettuce, rice, dates and grapes.
  • Walnuts: It is the richest food in campestanol and sitostanol. Another food that contains a lot of campestanol is oats:
    Other foods rich in phytosterols are: hazelnuts, cucumbers, asparagus, chard, spinach, figs, raspberries, radishes, tomatoes, pistachios, carrots, melons, pomegranates or eggplants

Foods with added phytosterols and phytostanols

To increase the plant sterols content of foods, the food industry adds some of these components to foods such as yogurts, milk, margarines, etc. So, we find products such as Danacol, Benecol, etc.

Are functional foods with phytosterols recommended ?

In general, the best source of phytosterols in the diet are foods that are naturally high in healthy fats, such as nuts and oilseeds. These foods contain phytosterols, as well as other interesting nutrients for fat metabolism, such as vitamin E (fat antioxidant), fiber, magnesium, etc.

However, it is also true that through natural foods it is almost impossible to achieve the amount of phytosterols that contain functional products (with added phytosterols).

Are these food supplements enough to lower cholesterol?

These types of dietary supplements cannot lower cholesterol levels by themselves.

Now, it has been proven that these products work and help lower cholesterol when combined with a proper diet, rich in natural plant products (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, etc.) and poor in cholesterol-rich foods, plus the usual practice of a physical activity.

Do phytosterols interact with statins?

Natural foods with phytosterols or products with phytosterols do not interfere with the action of statins (cholesterol-lowering medications), since their mode of action is different.

punto rojo More information on phytosterols

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Vicente Martínez Centelles
Written by Vicente Martínez Centelles Founder of the web and director. Teacher of natural sciences, expert in plants, natural remedies and botanical photography.

23 January, 2020

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