Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 4, April 2009

Lowering cholesterol A review on the role of plant sterols

Peter Clifton
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Plant sterols are an important but underused dietary component in the treatment of elevated blood cholesterol.
This review discusses the background to plant sterol use and reviews evidence about its use in clinical practice.
When consumed in the recommended amounts, sterols alone decrease low density lipoprotein cholesterol; in combination with other dietary changes, low density lipoprotein can be further lowered. Most patients, whether they are on cholesterol lowering drugs or not, would benefit from using plant sterols, which are now available in milk and yoghurt as well as spreads. In animal models, plant sterols have been shown to reduce atherosclerosis despite an elevation in the blood level, however there is no hard end point data for this in humans.

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