Eating healthy is one of the most successful ways to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Limiting foods with dietary cholesterol means there’s less to absorb. Plus, specific foods like soluble fibers, phospholipids, and phytosterols seem designed by nature to help us with cholesterol balance.
In this article, we explore how phytosterols can help us maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
How Phytosterols Work in the Body
Phytosterols are plant-derived compounds structured similarly to the body’s cholesterol. When we eat these plant sterols and stanols, they prime the intestine to block the absorption of cholesterol. They also trick the body into believing cholesterol levels are higher, so the liver makes less cholesterol, and the body expels more.
We get phytosterols from foods like unrefined oil, nuts, oats, fruits, and vegetables. (See a detailed list of foods and their phytosterol contents here.) Some foods like yogurt and fat spreads are also enriched with phytosterols.
Studies show that eating or taking phytosterols daily can drop LDL (bad) cholesterol levels – and help keep levels in healthy ranges. While we suspect our ancestors ate over a gram of phytosterols a day, an average American diet today may include as little as 150 mg. Vegans and vegetarians may get enough phytosterols from food to aid cholesterol balance, but many of us don’t.
Phytosterol Doses for Cholesterol Balance
It’s recommended we eat or take 400 mg of plant sterols twice a day (800 mg total) to help keep cholesterol balanced and reduce the risk of heart disease. If you want to lower LDL levels, studies recommend eating or taking 2-3 grams of phytosterols daily.
In addition to eating more phytosterol-rich foods, you can get the cholesterol-blocking action of Phytosterols with supplements. Taking our Immediate-Release Phytosterols before meals, twice daily, supports heart health. For men, phytosterols also support prostate and urinary tract health.
For more tips on dietary changes that can significantly improve cholesterol levels, check out this article.