Plant Sterols - A Cholesterol Lowering Agent
Plant sterols are found naturally in the diet in small amounts,
such as vegetable oils, legumes (e.g. kidney beans, chick peas,
lentils), fruit and vegetables and breads or cereals. The most predominate
plant sterols are sitosterol, campesterol and stigmaesterol. It
has been proven that plant sterols can lower blood cholesterol.
Cholesterol absorption is reduced in the
gut by plant sterols, therefore lowering serum concentrations of
cholesterol. Cholesterol that is unabsorbed will be crystallized
and excreted in the feces. This results in a decreased LDL (bad
cholesterol) level and the HDL (good cholesterol) remains unaffected.
A study conducted by Hendricks et al. (1999)
concluded that if 1.6 g of plant sterols per day are consumed, LDL
cholesterol can be reduced by 10% within 3 weeks. With this reduction
in LDL cholesterol, the risk of heart disease could be reduced by
25%, which is a more significant effect than by simply reducing
saturated fat in a diet.
Becel has developed a margarine containing plant sterols called
"Becel pro-active", which has all of the same heart health
benefits as other Becel margarine (low in saturated fat and non-hydrogenated).
Saturated fat tends to increase blood cholesterol levels.
A serving (2 teaspoons) of Becel pro-active
contains 0.8 g of plant sterols, therefore 2 servings (4 teaspoons)
would equal 1.6 g of plant sterols per day. Becel pro-active is
recommended for adults with elevated cholesterol, who are looking
for a dietary way to help manage their cholesterol (Becel, 2001).
There is an advisory for this product which states that Becel pro-active
margarine may not be nutritionally appropriate for people with special
dietary needs (pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under
the age of 5). Also, anyone who is currently taking medication for
their cholesterol, should consult a physician before consuming Becel
CCRF would like to thank London Health Science Centre - Cardiac Fitness Institute for their contribution to the website.
The articles, on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advise. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.