Why would someone want to make a point of eating plant sterols? These naturally-occurring substances help to block the absorption of cholesterol and can help to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the body.
Natural Sources of Plant Sterols
Plant sterols can be found in small amounts in these kinds of foods: fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables.
They are also added to an ever-growing number of prepared foods. If you want to add more plant sterols to your diet, look for foods like margarine, cereals, granola bars and orange juice, that have this ingredient added.
How Plant Sterols Help to Lower Cholesterol
Plant Sterols appear very similar to cholesterol on a molecular level. When they reach the body’s digestive system, they stop cholesterol from moving into the bloodstream. If the cholesterol doesn’t get a chance to get into the bloodstream, it is excreted from the body as waste material.
How Much Plant Sterol is Enough
Once you find a food or number of foods that have been enriched with sterols, you don’t need to eat them to excess to reap the health benefits that they can provide. Consuming two grams of plant sterols per day can have a positive effect on the health of people who have high cholesterol.
Not everyone should make a point of eating foods containing plant sterols. Unless you have a history of heart attack or have high cholesterol, don’t make a point of consuming them. A cholesterol-lowering diet should also include these foods:
- Fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, mackerel)
- Oat bran
- Soy protein
Fatty fish contains Omega-3, which helps to lower triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. Walnuts are a good choice for a cholesterol-lowering diet because they are also a good source of Omega-3.
Oat bran and oatmeal contains fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and may discourage overeating because these foods help a person to feel full, longer.
Soy protein should be included in your heart-healthy diet plan because it lowers the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides without affecting the good cholesterol in the body.