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Plant Sterols 101

Clinical studies indicate that plant sterols can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine by up to 50%. This can lower LDL when consumed as part of a healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Plant Sterols can be as effective and safer than statins, and authorities like Dr. Oz and Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist recommend talking to your doctor about them.  

Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, are plant-based compounds that occur naturally in fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole-grain products and most vegetable oils, but usually at levels too low to effect LDL cholesterol. But plant sterols can be added to other foods at beneficial levels that help lower blood cholesterol and reduce risk of coronary heart disease.

These naturally-occurring substances are the plant’s cholesterol. Just as humans have cholesterol, so do plants. If you were to look at plant sterols under a microscope, they look very similar to human cholesterol. Thanks to this nearly identical structure, plant sterols compete with cholesterol for access to receptors in the small intestines known as micelles. Micelles help transport cholesterol through the intestine into your blood stream. Over 140 clinical studies have shown that plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 5% – 14%.

PlantSterolsEquivsWhile there are more and more heart healthy snacks and heart healthy foods available today, those which have plant sterols (meeting specific FDA criteria) can sport a statement on the package indicating they may help reduce the chances of heart disease.

Experts recommend that to get the maximum cholesterol-lowering benefits, you should consume between 1.5 to 3 grams of plant sterols per day. To begin to see any benefits you need to consume a minimum of 0.8 grams per day. Most Americans get approximately 0.25 grams of plant sterols per day from the foods they consume. While it may be difficult to get this amount naturally from heart healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, it is very achievable if you incorporate foods fortified with plant sterols such as specific snack foods, breads, and margarines.

Read some of the clinical studies here >>

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