Plant sterols

background

Phytosterols, also called plant sterols, are a group of chemicals that occur naturally in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, soybeans, breads, peanuts, peanut products, olive, flaxseed oil, and tuna.
Beta-sitosterol is one of the most common dietary phytosterols and is classified as a noncholesterol sterol, or neutral sterol. However, it is structurally similar to cholesterol and is the main sterol in the Western diet.
Margarines enriched with phytosterol have been marketed for their cholesterol-lowering effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) has authorized the use of labeling health claims for foods containing plant sterols and plant stanol esters. Sitosterols are also used in products for the treatment of other health disorders, including, but not limited to, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and for immune stimulation. However, more research is needed on the use of plant sterols for these conditions in humans.

Related Terms

3-Beta-stigmast-5-en-3-ol, (3beta)-stigmast-5-en-3-ol, 22,23-dihydrostigmasterol, 24-beta-ethyl-delta-5-cholesten-3beta-ol, 24-ethyl-cholesterol, a-dihydrofucosterol, alpha-dihydrofucosterol, alpha-phytosterol, a-phytosterol, AzuprostatĀ®, beta-sisterol, beta-sitostanol ester, beta-sitosterin, beta-sitosterol, betasitosterol, beta-sitosterol glucoside, beta-sitosterol glycoside, beta-sitosterolin, brassicastanol, brassicasterol, B-sitosterol 3-B-D-glucoside, B-sitosterolin, campestanol, campesterol, cinchol, cupreol, delta-5-stigmasten-3beta-ol, ergostanol, ergosterol, phytostanol ester, phytostanols, plant stanol ester, plant stanols, plant sterol ester, plant sterols, quebrachol, rhamnol, sitostanol, sitosterin, sitosterin delalande, sitosterol, sitosterolins, sitosterols, soy sterol ester, stanol, stanol ester, sterinol, sterol, sterol esters, sterolins, stigmastanol, stigmasterol.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
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High cholesterol (Grade: A)
Well-designed studies have demonstrated that supplementation of beta-sitosterol in the diet decreases total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) (Grade: B)
Some evidence suggests that phytosterols may be useful to treat symptoms of BPH. Further research is needed in this area.
Hair loss (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that a combination of plant compounds, including beta-sitosterol, may be helpful for hair loss in men and women that is due to genetic and environmental factors. Higher-quality studies are needed.
HIV (Grade: C)
Beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside have been studied in combination for the treatment of HIV. The results are inconclusive. Further research is needed.
Immune system regulation (Grade: C)
Beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside have been studied for their effects in decreasing immunosuppressive responses caused by strenuous exercise. The results are inconclusive. Further research is needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis (Grade: C)
Beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside have been studied as a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. The results are inconclusive. Further research is needed in this area.
Tuberculosis (Grade: C)
Beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside have been studied for the adjunct treatment of tuberculosis. The results are inconclusive. Further research is needed in this area.
Gallstones (Grade: D)
Limited evidence suggests that plant sterols may have a negative effect in individuals with gallstones. More research is needed.