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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 14, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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Phytosterols may also be called plant sterols. These are phytochemicals which naturally occur in plants; the amount of Phytosterols in vegetables is relatively low and they may be seen in corn oil, soybean oil and in sea buckthorn oil.

Phytosterol from vegetable oil is called cholestatin is marketed as a food supplement. It is characterized as a white powder which is insoluble in water but completely soluble in alcohol. Phytosterols are used in medicinal preparation, cosmetics and also as a cholesterol lowering agent.

History and Origin

Phytosterols are completely derived from plant oils. The name phyto means plants in Latin and sterols are steroids with a hydroxyl group at C-3. Sterols are lipid-like complex of unsaturated alcohols.
The cholesterol-lowering benefits of Phytosterols have been in use for more than 50 years now. It was first introduced as an additive to margarine by the Raisio Group in Finland in 1995. It has been used in many products and marketed as products with Phytosterol added.

Ancient Uses

Phytosterols have been used since ancient times because of the ability of some plants like corn and wheat to have medicinal properties that were attributed to eating significant amounts of these types of food.

Modern Uses

In modern times, Phytosterols are extracted from fruits, vegetables, spices, seeds, and nuts. In the manufacturing industry, Phytosterols are extracted from soya and wood pulp. The effect of The use of Phytosterols in lowering blood cholesterol has been significant in many case studies and this is due in part to the reduction of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol found in the blood.
Phytosterols are also beneficial for patients who have autoimmune diseases. It acts as an anti inflammatory agent that reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis like pain, inflammation and redness.

The use of Phytosterols in the treatment of enlarged prostrate in patients with Benign Prostrate Hypertrophy has been evident due to increased urine flow and decreased pain and swelling.
Phytosterols are marketed as food enriched products such as margarine, breakfast cereals and sandwich spreads. Phytosterols are also a main ingredient in fat loss products and medications.

Side Effects

Significant studies have shown that Phytosterols may cause atherosclerosis and increased possibility in developing aortic valve stenosis. It is important therefore to ask your doctor regarding the use of Phytosterols for your illness. If you have heart disease and hypertension, it is best to determine the appropriate dosage for your condition prior to starting a regime. Even if there are no noted adverse reactions when combined with other medications, it is still a wise decision to ask your doctor regarding the effects of Phytosterols with any medication you may be taking currently for any illness.

Taking products that are rich in Phytosterols for fat loss may be effective if combined with the right diet, exercise and also a healthy change in lifestyle. Consult a dietician or a nutritionist regarding the ideal meal plan to get rid of fat safely and effectively. He or she may also be able to properly advice you on the right dose of Phytosterol supplements to take that can speed up your fat metabolism and make your fat loss routine more effective.

Read also: Burdock Root

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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