While we all wish to have our cholesterol levels in control, leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating junk food and undue stress can elevate them, increasing your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.
Though many doctors vouch for statin medications as the first-line of treatment to reduce cholesterol, the truth is they could be causing you more harm than good. Plant sterols, on the other hand, are the most scientifically studied natural health substances that can lower cholesterol naturally. We tell you why they can be better than statins.
Plant Sterols vs Statins
Statins are medicines that block the action of a chemical in the liver required to make cholesterol. Not only do they reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol, they are also quite inexpensive, which is the main reason for their popularity.
However, what people don’t know is that statins can cause serious muscular problems which can weaken your muscles. Statins may burden the liver and may adversely affect people fighting liver disease, those who regularly drink alcohol and take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen.
Plant sterols, or ‘phytosterols’, are naturally occurring substances found in plant foods—nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and vegetable oils. They are similar in chemical structure to dietary cholesterol and prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, bringing the levels down. More than 200 research studies conducted over the last 60 years have consistently found them safe and effective in reducing blood LDL (bad) cholesterol by eight to 10 percent.(1)
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who consumed 2gm of plant sterols every day for one year lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol by 14 percent and total cholesterol by 10 percent.(2)
How To Include Them In Your Diet
As part of an overall heart-healthy diet, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that a person should consume 2gm of plant sterols every day. The highest amounts of plant sterols can be found in:
- Cereals such as wheat germ, oat bran, rice bran, and brown rice.
- Legumes such as dried peas, lentils and dried beans.
- Dried nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
- You could also take plant sterol supplements. Click here to buy them.
Advisory: The content made available at Z Living has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by any other governmental agency. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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1. Demonty I, Ras RT, van der Knaap HC, Duchateau GS, Meijer L, Zock PL, Geleijnse JM, Trautwein EA. Continuous dose-response relationship of the LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of phytosterol intake. J Nutr. 2009 Feb;139(2):271-84. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.095125. Epub 2008 Dec 17. Review. PubMed PMID: 19091798.
2. Miettinen TA, Puska P, Gylling H, Vanhanen H, Vartiainen E. Reduction of serum cholesterol with sitostanol-ester margarine in a mildly hypercholesterolemic population. N Engl J Med. 1995 Nov 16;333(20):1308-12. PubMed PMID: 7566021.