How does phytosterol lower cholesterol?

Phytosterols chemical structures
Phytosterols chemical structures


Phytosterol, also known as plant sterol, is a natural active ingredient in plants, similar in structure to animal sterols such as cholesterol. Phytosterols are a large family. There are more than 70 kinds of phytosterols with similar structures in nature. The common ones include β-sitosterol, sitostanol, campesterol, stigmasterol, oat sterols, and so on.

Phytosterol sources

We can find phytosterols in vegetable oils, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, etc. For example, it is rich in rice oil, corn oil, soybean oil, nuts, grapeseed oil, and so on.

Corns rich in Phytosterol
Corns rich in Phytosterol

How do phytosterols lower cholesterol?

Phytosterols have the effect of maintaining cholesterol balance in the body and are known as “cholesterol nemesis” in the nutrition community.

How do phytosterols work to drive away cholesterol when they are consumed in our bodies?

The inhibition of cholesterol by phytosterols is mainly through the following forms:

  1. Phytosterols can precipitate cholesterol in the small intestine, making it insoluble, thereby preventing cholesterol from being absorbed by the body.
  2. Cholesterol is absorbed by the body by dissolving in the lumen of the small intestine, while phytosterols can replace cholesterol and prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol.
  3. Phytosterol can compete with cholesterol for absorption in the small intestine (microvilli), preventing the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Phytosterols lower cholesterol

The difference between phytosterols and statins

Plant sterols and statins have completely different lipid-lowering principles. Phytosterols replace excess cholesterol and then enter the metabolic system, and this process will not affect other functions of the body. Although phytosterol and cholesterol are similar in structures, they have a key difference: after phytosterol replaces cholesterol, it will not remain on the blood vessel wall like cholesterol and become blood vessel garbage, but will eventually be excreted through the metabolic system ( the replaced cholesterol is also excreted at the same time). Therefore, there will be no problem with excess residues of phytosterols.

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