Another name for plant sterols is phytosterols, they are often used interchangeably. There are a number of sterols including sitosterol, campersterols and stigmasterol. There is no official recommendation for plant sterol, but research recommends eating just 1.5-2.4 grams a day.
Plant sterols are derived from vegetable oils (corn, olive, sesame and canola), whole grains, whole wheat, nuts (cashews, pecans and walnuts) and legumes (kidney beans, peas and broad beans). The average diet contains 300mg of plant sterols, a vegetarian and vegan diet would be considerably more.
The medical use of plant sterols is extremely significant as most people have high cholesterol. One study studied the effectiveness of fortified foods against LDL cholesterol. They found that drinking fortified orange juice once a day reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by 12.4% and consumption daily fortified margarine reduced high cholesterol by 14%.
Studies have shown that eating just 1.5-2.4 grams a day can reduce high cholesterol by as much as 10.5%. Plant sterols have been clinically proven to reduce high cholesterol by as much as 10.5%. Plant sterols have been clinically proven to reduce high levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Plant sterols act as competitive inhibitors for cholesterol absorption from the diet.
Plant sterols are recommended for those with dietary induced high cholesterol as well as genetically induced high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia).