Plant sterols help reduce cholesterol

Plants contain natural cholesterol-lowering compounds called sterols and stanols which doctors in this study tested on 28 overweight men and women, average age 58, with high LDL cholesterol. After taking a five-week cholesterol education course, participants took a plant sterol/stanol supplement or a placebo for six weeks, then switched placebo and supplement for another six weeks.

The daily 1,800 mg dose contained about four parts sitosterol to one part sitostanol. While there were no improvements during the placebo phases, during the sterol/stanol phases, total cholesterol fell 7.4 percent, LDL “bad” cholesterol dropped 9.2 percent, and triglycerides fell 9.1 percent.

The diet advises people to consume 25 to 35 percent of daily calories from mostly monounsaturated fats, with less than 7 percent of daily calories from saturated fat, including no more than 200 mg of cholesterol. 

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