What Are Plant Sterols?

Overview

People aren't the only ones with cholesterol. Plants have their own variety of cholesterol called sterols. These sterols are not only better for plants and humans, but can also replace bad cholesterol that can lead to a variety of diseases.

Cholesterol

Plant sterols play many of the same roles in plants as cholesterol plays in animals. However, while animals can produce their own cholesterol, plants can only absorb sterols from the soil.

Plants High in Sterols

Rice, wheat, bran, peas, beans, lentils, seeds, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, apples, avocados, tomatoes, oils and blueberries all are high in sterols.

Human Benefits

Sterols can block bad cholesterol in the human body. Sterols compete with cholesterol for absorption by the liver. However, the human intestine has a difficult time absorbing sterols.

Fortification

Sterols are often extracted from plants and turned into esters, which are then injected into foods to fortify them. This aids the human body in the consumption of adequate sterols.

Other Benefits

Plant sterols have anti-cancer properties. Stomach, colon, breast and prostate cancers are less likely when sterols are consumed. Those with type 2 diabetes and menopause can also benefit from sterols with reduced symptoms.

References

  • Plant Stanols and Sterols
  • What Foods are High in Plant Sterols
Keywords: plant sterols, anti-cancer, bad cholesterol, human intestine

About this Author

Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer since 2009. He has a B.S. in literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written the ebooks "Karate You Can Teach Your Kids," "Macadamia Growing Handout" and "The Raw Food Diet."