Q:

What foods contain plant steroids?

A:

Quick Answer

Almonds, brown rice, whole wheat, dried beans and peanuts are all relatively good sources of plant sterols. Other reliable sources of plant sterols include lentils, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

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Full Answer

Plant sterols are substances that occur naturally in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. However, fruits and vegetables only contain trace amounts, levels that are too low to positively affect cholesterol levels. A person would need to eat approximately 100 pounds of fruits and vegetables daily to get the total daily intake of two grams needed for plant sterols to lower cholesterol, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Because of this, sterols are added to many foods, such as margarine spreads, orange juice, cereals, granola and snack bars. Plant sterols are also found in some cooking oils, salad dressings, milk, yogurt and juices.

Plant sterols work in the digestive tract by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead, the cholesterol is eliminated from the body with waste. More than 140 clinical studies have shown that plant sterols can help lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 14 percent. However, the American Heart Association does not recommend sterol-fortified foods for everyone. Instead, it suggests that only people who need to lower their cholesterol or who have had a heart attack should use them.

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