Q:

What foods are high in plant sterols?

A:

Quick Answer

Foods that are high in plant sterols include wheat germ, sesame and rice bran oil, corn oil and canola oil. Other foods with high levels of plant sterols are peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, wheat bran and olive oil.

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Full Answer

Brussel sprouts and rye bread are also rich in plant sterols, as are some sandwich spreads. Dairy products and juices have also been fortified with sterols and stanols, which are another type of plant sterol. However, nutritionists believe that it is best to get sterols from whole foods and not simply foods to which they have been added. They are best used by people who have heart problems and people who are seeking to lower their cholesterol levels.

Plant sterols, or phytosterols, are chemicals made by plants that are similar to the cholesterol found in animals. However, taking plant sterols helps reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, which scientists consider "bad" cholesterol, by preventing its absorption in the intestine. Some studies suggest that small amounts of plant sterols can also ease some of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or a noncancerous enlarged prostate. Other studies on animals show that breast or prostate cancers can be inhibited with large doses of plant sterols. It is not known if this works in humans.

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