Phytosterols are plant sterols structurally similar to cholesterol that act in the intestine to coger Cholesterol absorption. The term ” phytosterols ” covers plant sterols and plant stanols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring substances present in the diet principally as minor components of vegetable oils. Plant stanols, occurring in nature at a lower level, are hydrogenation compounds of the respective plant sterols.
Phytosterols from plant sources, used in this unique formula has been found beneficial in treating many conditions, such as improving the immune system, arthritis and high cholesterol. The plant sterols compete for absorption sites with those of cholesterol (an animal sterol), they thus reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed. Total and LDL (low-density lipid) cholesterol levels can be reduced by the ingestion of phytosterols.
They are white powders with mild, characteristic odor, insoluble in water and soluble in alcohols. They have many applications as food additives, and in medicine and cosmetics.

Examples of Phytosterols

There are over 40 phytosterols, but beta-sitosterol is the most abundant one, comprising about 50 percent of dietary phytosterols. The next most abundant are campesterol (33 percent), stigmasterol (2-5 percent). Other phytosterols found in our diet include brassicasterol, delta-7-stigmasterol and delta-7-avenasterol.
Beta-sitosterol has been shown in many studies to promote healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also has been shown to be a strong antiinflammatory, to have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Research suggests beta-sitosterol may help to protect our stomach lining and prevent ulcers.

Dietary phytosterols:benefits and side effects

Most animal and human studies show that phytosterols reduce serum/or plasma total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are structurally very similar to cholesterol except that they always contain some substitutions at the C24 position on the sterol side chain. Plasma phytosterol levels in mammalian tissue are normally very low due primarily to poor absorption from the intestine and faster excretion from liver compared to cholesterol. Phytosterols are able to be metabolized in the liver into C21 bile acids via liver other than normal C24 bile acids in mammals. It is generally assumed that cholesterol reduction results directly from inhibition of cholesterol absorption through displacement of cholesterol from micelles. Structure-specific effects of individual phytosterol constituents have recently been shown where saturated phytosterols are more efficient compared to unsaturated compounds in reducing cholesterol levels. In addition, phytosterols produce a wide spectrum of therapeutic effects in animals including anti-tumour properties. Phytosterols have been shown experimentally to inhibit colon cancer development. With regard to toxicity, no obvious side effects of phytosterol have been observed in studies to date, except in individual with phytosterolemia, an inherited lipid disorder. Further characterization of the influence of various phytosterol subcomponents on lipoprotein profiles in humans is required to maximize the usefulness of this non-pharmacological approach to reduction of atherosclerosis in the population.

1) Cholesterol Reduction

Phytosterols may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels. Because they have very low systemic absorption and are already present in healthy diets, increasing the intake of phytosterols may be a practical way to reduce coronary heart disease with minimum risk. Foods containing phytosterols have been shown to help cut colesterol.

2) Rheumatoid artritis

These plant sterols and sterolins have also extensively been used in the treatment of cancers (such as prostate cancer) and rheumatoid arthritis. Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis have reported greater mobility, less pain and less infection.
Plant sterols and sterolins are found in a variety of plants and can effectively be extracted as a dietary supplement, at relatively low cost.
People suffering from problems with their immune system, including continuous or repetitive colds and flu, could benefit from adding this humble ingredient to their diet.
Patients suffering from a AIDS and HIV have found great benefit from taking daily supplements of plant sterols and sterolins, but this must not be seen as a replacement therapy or treatment for any existing therapy or treatment.
A small clinical trial is being conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of phytochemicals in the treatment of AIDS.

3) Cancer

  • Some cancer patients have also reported benefits from taking plant sterols and sterolins since it seems that these phytochemicals help in containing the spread of cancer in the body.
  • Please take note that this is not a claim for a cancer cure, but merely a statement of what patients have found when using phytochemicals.

In addition numerous animal studies have shown that plant sterols are potentially beneficial treating infections caused by fungi and bacteria, and may be useful in treating tumors of the colon.

Sources: Wikipedia, Organic Food Directory

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