Surely you’ve heard of phytosterols, however be careful with them because they are not as beneficial to health as you might think.
There are many natural nutrients that are at our disposal and, among its many properties, are the beneficial to our heart be.
Among the best known are phytosterols, which are natural plant sterols having origins that are present in very small amounts in certain foods such as soy or sunflower oil. Although they are recognized for their cholesterol-lowering effects, some doubts about its overall benefit to our health arise.
These phytosterols mediate cholesterol absorption process in our gut, resulting in a decrease in blood cholesterol concentrations.
What are phytosterols?
Plant sterols or phytosterols are a family of closely related molecules with cholesterol. Found in cell membranes of plants, where they play a role, like cholesterol in humans. The most common human diet phytosterols are campesterol, sitosterol and stigmasterol. There is also called plant stanols molecules that are similar.
Although the human body can operate both types of sterols in the system, the human body cholesterol certainly preferred. Humans have two enzymes designed to regulate sterols can enter the body from the intestine. Only small amounts of phytosterols can overcome this barrier delivery, while about 55% of the cholesterol always passes through the intestine.
Vegetable oils and margarines are rich in phytosterols
Many vegetables healthy foods contain considerable amounts of phytosterols. Throughout history, they have been part of the human diet as a component of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Vegetable oils are actually very high in phytosterols. Because these oils are added to all kinds of processed foods, the total intake of phytosterols is probably greater than ever. On the other hand, cereal grains also contain small amounts of phytosterols, and can be an important source for people who eat a lot of cereal.
It should also be noted that phytosterols some processed foods are added, especially margarines that are labeled “cholesterol-lowering” and are a must to help prevent heart disease.
The phytosterols can lower total cholesterol
It is a well documented fact that phytosterols can lower cholesterol levels. They are especially effective for people who have high cholesterol, regardless of whether they are taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol or not. However, it is important to realize that it has positive effects on a risk factor for a disease, but can not guarantee to prevent the actual disease.
Paradoxically, phytosterols may increase the risk of heart attacks despite lower cholesterol. In fact, some studies suggest it might even increase the risk of heart disease. These investigations have revealed the relationship between high intake of phytosterols and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The explanation could be that phytosterols increase the buildup of plaque in the arteries, causing strokes, heart attacks and shorten life.
These recent studies contradict the doctrine of some agencies still recommend taking phytosterols to improve heart health. But more and more institutions that warn of the risks that have the regular consumption of these phytosterols.