Lowering Cholesterol With Plant Sterols
Heart disease is the number one killer of American women and men. High blood cholesterol can significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The higher your cholesterol, the greater your risk. Prescription medications such as statins are an excellent option for many people and have been shown to reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk, though some people may develop side effects.
For those with elevated cholesterol levels that are not yet high enough to start prescription medication or those hoping to avoid prescription medication and their side effects, physicians recommend lifestyle changes that are proven to reduce cholesterol by up to 30% (according to the United States National Institutes of Health). They include diet, weight loss, exercise and a dietary supplement called plant sterols.
What are plant sterols and how do they lower cholesterol?
Plant sterols are in the foods we eat every day, including fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts and legumes. If we consume enough plant sterols in our diet, our blood cholesterol levels decrease. It is challenging to get enough plant sterols through diet alone, which is why a dietary supplement or food with added plant sterols is necessary to achieve the desired cholesterol reduction. In fact, the US FDA allows manufacturers of products containing a certain level of plant sterols to make claims related to cholesterol and heart disease reduction, if these products are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
The liver makes most of the cholesterol in our bodies and releases it into the intestine to aid with digestion. Further down in the intestine, cholesterol is re-absorbed back into to the blood stream and returned to the liver. Similar to soluble fiber, plant sterols help block this re-absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. This can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5-15% while not affecting HDL (good) cholesterol or triglycerides. Plant sterols have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels in approximately 4-6 weeks.
Over 100 clinical studies have shown that plant sterols and stanols can significantly reduce blood cholesterol. Additionally, the United States National Institutes of Health, the National Lipid Association, and the European Atherosclerosis Society have recommended plant sterols to lower cholesterol.
Selecting the best plant sterol product
There are several high quality plant sterol products on the market. Here are a few things to consider in selecting the best option for you:
- Quality: Are there medical professionals in the company? Does the manufacturer share its quality testing data for each lot of product?
- Convenience: To maximize their benefit, plant sterols should be taken around meal time. Smaller, portable packages may be more convenient than large bottles if you plan to carry them to work, to a restaurant or even on a vacation.
- Made in the USA: Generally products made in the United States are a safer bet because FDA requires Good Manufacturing Practices be followed.
- Ease of use: If you don’t like large pills, try finding a format that you can see yourself taking twice a day on an ongoing basis.
Cholesterol Reduction With Plant Sterols: Dosing
When using plant sterols for cholesterol reduction, choose a product that you are likely to take twice per day. Remember, plant sterols should be taken around meal time to maximize their benefit. If you don’t like large pills, choose another format that works for you.
Physicians typically recommend consuming a total of 2 grams of plant sterols per day (this includes the plant sterols in your regular diet). The average Western diet yields about 0.3 gram of plant sterols daily and a vegetarian diet about 0.6 grams daily. This means you might target 1.4 grams through the use of a dietary supplement.
Lowering Cholesterol with Piper Biosciences Cholesterol Wellness Kits
Plant sterols represent a clinically-proven, physician-recommended solution for cholesterol reduction–especially for those who are not yet candidates for prescription medications or who hope to avoid prescription medications and their side effects. Plant sterols work by preventing the reabsorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract. Those considering using plant sterols should choose a product that is enjoyable, convenient and manufactured by a trustworthy company. Those looking for a gummy containing plant sterols for cholesterol reduction may wish to consider the Piper Biosciences Cholesterol Wellness Kit.
Individual results may vary. Supplementation with plant sterol esters typically reduces cholesterol by 5-15% within several weeks. Adding other lifestyle changes, including a heart healthy diet, can reduce cholesterol by up to 30%. Repeat lipid testing is recommended.