Ingredient Spotlight: Plant Sterols

With more than 30 years of scientific research supporting their benefits, plant sterols are an important ingredient for heart health that may reduce the risk of heart disease* by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

High blood cholesterol is a serious condition that increases the risk for heart disease (1). When combined with healthful diet and lifestyle choices, adding the benefits of plant sterols can be an effective tool for helping to control cholesterol levels (2-5).

Cholesterol’s Role in the Body

Although it’s a concern when levels are too high, cholesterol has important functions in the body. It’s a building block for cell membranes, a component of many hormones, and is used to make bile, which is essential for normal digestion. Your body can make all the cholesterol it needs, so you never need to consume it from foods.

Your body is also efficient at recycling cholesterol. For example, when bile is released into the digestive tract to aid in digestion, it’s broken down, reabsorbed, and transported back to the liver to be reused. It’s easy to see how additional cholesterol from the foods we eat can lead to an accumulation of excess cholesterol in the body.

Plant Sterols Help Lower Cholesterol

Plant sterols work by helping to reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from foods in the digestive tract. In addition, plant sterols help the body to eliminate more of the cholesterol that it makes on its own. These two benefits of plant sterols combine to reduce the amount of cholesterol entering the bloodstream, which helps to lower LDL and total cholesterol levels in the body.

Plant sterols have a similar shape and chemical makeup to cholesterol, but unlike cholesterol, the body absorbs little of the plant sterols that are present in the digestive tract. Even though your body doesn’t absorb plant sterols, the similarities between plant sterols and cholesterol cause them to compete for space in the body’s cholesterol absorption and transport system.

Plant sterols displace cholesterol, reducing the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs by 50- to 80-percent. The unabsorbed cholesterol and plant sterols are eliminated from the digestive tract with waste (2). To visualize the way that plant sterols work in the body, imagine a crowd waiting for a bus. If your body’s cholesterol transport system was the bus, plant sterols would rush in, take all the seats, and leave cholesterol standing on the curb. This helps reduce the cholesterol your body absorbs from foods as well as cholesterol from internal sources, such as from bile.

Plant Sterols Are Important Phytonutrients in Plant-Based Foods

Plant sterols are naturally present in plant-based foods, especially grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes (6). The problem is that it’s hard to get a meaningful amount of plant sterols in a typical diet, since they’re present in relatively small amounts (6).

While the traditional diets of our ancestors were most likely rich in plant sterols, we now consume an average of just 400 milligrams of plant sterols per day (2, 7). To see a benefit for reducing blood cholesterol levels, we need to consume at least 1,300 milligrams (1.3 grams) of plant sterols daily (8).

Safety of Plant Sterols

Plant sterols are naturally present in the plant-based foods we eat, and are a part of a healthful diet. For the most part, plant sterols pass through the digestive system without being absorbed. Less than five percent of dietary plant sterols are absorbed (8). Additionally, the benefits of plant sterols have been studied for more than 30 years, and are recommended by the American Heart Association as part of a comprehensive lifestyle plan to manage cholesterol (9).

Isagenix Offers Heart Shake Booster

Consuming plant sterols as a supplement helps lower blood cholesterol levels by reducing the amount of dietary cholesterol the body can absorb from foods and helps the body eliminate more cholesterol (10, 11). Isagenix offers Heart Shake Booster, designed for use with IsaLean™ Shakes. Heart Shake Booster is formulated to supply 0.65 g per serving of plant sterols and used twice a day to supply a total 1.3 grams of plant sterols. Considerable scientific research demonstrates that consuming at least 1.3 grams of plant sterols as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease* (12).

Isagenix’s no-compromise quality standards includes the use of carefully sourced plant sterol ingredients that undergo stringent analytical testing procedures to detect the presence of contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, or microbes. Isagenix plant sterols are obtained from a natural, non-GMO source that’s soy-free, trans-fat free, and free of major allergens.

*Foods containing at least 0.65 g per serving of plant sterol esters, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 g, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of Heart Shake Booster supplies 0.65 grams of plant sterol esters.

References

  1. Cholesterol, CDC Accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm
  2. Salo P, Hopia A. Plant stanol esters: cholesterol-lowering studies. NutraFoods. 2004;3(2):23–29.
  3. Moruisi KG, Oosthuizen W, Opperman AM. Phytosterols/stanols lower cholesterol concentrations in familial hypercholesterolemic subjects: A systematic review with metaanalysis. J Am Coll Nutr. Feb 2006;25(1):41-48.
  4. Sirtori CR, Galli C, Anderson JW, Sirtori E, Arnoldi A. Functional foods for dyslipidaemia and cardiovascular risk prevention. Nutr Res Rev. 2009;22:244-261.
  5. AbuMweis SS, Marinangeli CPF, Frohlich J, Jones P. Implementing Phytosterols Into Medical Practice as a Cholesterol-Lowering Strategy: Overview of Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Safety, Canad J. Cardiol 2014; 20(10):1225-1232.
  6. Weihrauch J, Gardner J. Sterol content of foods of plant origin. J Am Diet Assoc 1978; 73:39–47.
  7. Jew S, AbuMweis SS, Jones PJ. Evolution of the human diet: linking our ancestral diet to modern functional foods as a means of chronic disease prevention. J Med Food. 2009;12(5):925-934.
  8. Phytosterols, Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center, Oregon State University, Accessed at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/phytosterols#food-sources
  9. National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) final report. Circulation. 2002 Dec 17;106(25):3143-421.
  10. Maki KC, Lawless AL, Reeves MS, et al. Lipid effects of a dietary supplement softgel capsule containing plant sterols/stanols in primary hypercholesterolemia. Nutrition. 2012.
  11. Ferguson JJA, Stojanovski L, MacDonald-Wicks L, Garg ML. Fat type in phytosterol products influence their cholesterol-lowering potential: A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs, Progress in Lipid Research 64 (2016) 16–29.
  12. Shaghaghi MA, Abumweis SS, Jones JH. Cholesterol-Lowering Efficacy of Plant Sterols/Stanols Provided in Capsule and Tablet Formats: Results of a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, J Acad Nutr Diet 2013; 113(11):2212-2672.