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Plant Sterols - How do they lower Cholesterol & Heart Disease

What are Plant Sterols? They are cholesterol-like substances naturally found in fruit, vegetables, nuts and cereals.

How do they work? Plant Sterols structure is similar enough to cholesterol that they reduce the absorption of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the gastrointestinal tract.

How effective is it? Consuming 2000-3000mg/day lowers blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of Heart Disease (HD) by 8-10%. It’s not a replacement for medication.

How much do I need? 2000-3000mg/day of plant sterols is recommended to lower blood cholesterol. Eating more than 3000mg/day of plant sterols does not provide any further benefit for HD (1). Additional plant sterols is not recommended for Children, pregnant or lactating women.

What do I need to eat? To increase your intake of plant sterols, the Heart Foundation recommends following a healthy eating pattern - vegetables, fruit and wholegrains, fish, nuts and seeds - which includes 2000 – 3000mg of plant sterols/day from naturally occurring and fortified foods e.g. margarine, milk, yoghurt and breakfast cereals.

If you need any help please contact me to tailor an eating plan that is right for you.

Maya McColm (APD AN Dietitian Nutritionist)

1. Rouyanne T et al. LDL-Cholesterol-lowering effect of plant sterols and stanols across different dose ranges: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies. British Journal of Nutrition (2014),112, 214 – 219.

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