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Plant sterols are found in diets rich in vegetables. These compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol, with the exception of the one or 2 more carbons in the side chain of the molecule. Although a variety of plant sterols have been identified, beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol are the most common and average 20% of sterols in our diets. Plant sterols are best known for their ability to lower cholesterol.
The foods with the highest source of plant sterols include:
- Whole grains such as rice bran, wheat germ, oat bran, bran, whole wheat and brown rice
- Legumes such as dried peas, dried beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds including peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds
- Vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, dill, tomatoes
- Fruits including apples, avocados and blueberries
Plant sterols are primarily used for:
- Colorectal Cancer prevention
- Studies have shown a decrease in colonic tumor formation when the plant sterol, beta-sitosterol was added to the diet. Beta-sitosterol may prevent adenoma formation, however may not affect the transition from adenoma to invasive carcinoma.
The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.
- Adults: recommended daily dosage is 2 grams a day.
Plant Sterols are generally considered safe.
- Raicht, RF, Cohen, BI, Fazzini, EP (1980) Protective effect of plant sterols against chemically induced colon tumors in rats. Cancer Research;40:403-405.