They make the success of margarines that claim to help us reduce our cholesterol. Really are phytosterols? How to consume?

Phytosterols belong to the family of sterols, which are lipids. They have a very similar structure to cholesterol. However, unlike the latter, they are not animal but vegetable. They are the equivalent of cholesterol from animals to plants.

The effects of phytosterols

Numerous scientific studies have shown that regular consumption of phytosterols and prolonged participated in the reduction of blood levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol that accumulates in our arteries more easily). The recommended dosage is about 2 to 2.5 g of phytosterols per day on one, two or three weeks.

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How do they allow phytosterols to reduce our cholesterol levels?

Everything depends on the structural similarity between cholesterol and phytosterols. The cholesterol in the food we eat is absorbed by the intestinal cells through receptors. It looks a bit like the “Lego”: if the receiver and cholesterol have complementary shapes, cholesterol can bind and be absorbed by the cell. Phytosterol, due to its similar structure, can also bind to receptors on cholesterol from the intestine. But as it is not entirely identical to the cholesterol absorption does not occur. Thus, it remains on the receptor and blocks it, preventing cholesterol fixing it and be absorbed.

Which products do we find phytosterols?

In France, there are mainly plant sterols in margarine, yogurt, or in milk drinks. United States regulations are less strict, it can be found in dozens of different products: drinks, cakes. In Canada, adding unwanted in consumer products is not allowed, but you can buy phytosterols as a dietary supplement in drugstore. But we must not forget that we consume 200 to 400 mg of phytosterols per day, with vegetable oils, cereals, dried fruits, vegetables. It is the use of margarine or other that helps us to consume 1 to 3 g of phytosterols per day, which can lead to a decline of 5 to 15% of our bad cholesterol. A teaspoon of margarine enriched in phytosterols brings about 0.60 g of phytosterols.

The miracle product?

Needless to consume more than reason, because, beyond the 3 g daily, lower bad cholesterol and stagnant is no longer significant. And no need to rely solely on the action of phytosterols when our diet is not balanced enough. Even if they can absorb less cholesterol, avoid the use of all our lives, because the phenomenon is too recent, scientists do not know yet the long-term effects on our health, a large consumption of phytosterols. So yes, they are a great help for people with high cholesterol, but they do not replace the application of a healthy lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular problems: balanced eating and playing sports!