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Lowering Cholesterol Naturally (An Evidence Based Product)

Posted by Sam Benjamin, M.D.
Sam Benjamin, M.D.
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on Monday, August 06, 2012
in Cholesterol

Beta SitosterolBeta-sitosterol is a plant sterol that lowers serum cholesterol. Plant sterols are produced in the refinement of vegetables or as a byproduct of papermaking from the oil of pinewood. Beta Sitosterol’s chemical structure is actually similar to cholesterol but it does not create an increased risk of atherosclerotic and/or heart a disease. The average diet provides about 175-200 mg of Beta Sitosterol, but less than 5% is actually absorbed when consumed orally so to lower cholesterol effectively you need to take a Beta Sitosterol supplement.Beta Sitosterol is commonly added to margarines as a cholesterol reducing aid. Fats are needed to solubilize plant sterols so margarines are an ideal vehicle. Smart Balance which contains plant sterols is such a spread that claims to reduce cholesterol and thereby decrease the risk of heart disease. It is most unlikely and you should NOT rely on this food product to lower cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol actually inhibits intestinal absorption of cholesterol by about 50%.

Taking beta-sitosterol orally significantly reduces total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL- “bad”) cholesterol levels, but has little or no effect on high-density lipoprotein (HDL- “good”) cholesterol levels. I have yet to read of studies that quantify if consuming Beta- Sitosterol can decrease the number of worrisome small LDL particles.