Margarines, yoghurts, drinks … the food anti-cholesterol have invaded the shelves of supermarkets. This asset health is linked to a family of individual compounds: phytosterols. But how do you market this ingredient miracle? The phytosterols are plant compounds which can enrich some foods. Consumed on a daily basis, they can help to reduce blood cholesterol.
phytosterols are among the lipids (fats) present in the plant foods: oils, cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, oleaginous fruit such as peanuts and almonds.
There are several kinds, such as sitosterol, campesterol, and all the group of stanols.
The sterols have few chemical structure very close to the cholesterol, but they do not have the disadvantages to the health.
The cholesterol, as to him, is concentrated in the foods of animal origin: eggs, offal, butter …
The first study having put in before the effectiveness of plant sterol on the reduction of blood cholesterol date of 1953 ! Since then, a good sixty of scientific work have demonstrated the interest of phytosterols on the decline of the total cholesterol, and especially of the LDL-cholesterol, the “bad”, which the excess has a tendency to clog the arteries.
To be assimilated, the cholesterol must integrate into the “alveolus”, of sorts of carriers present in the digestive cells. As the plant sterol very similar to cholesterol, if they are present in sufficient quantity in the digestive tract, they take the place of a party of cholesterol within the carriers.
Result: there is less cholesterol assimilated (the cholesterol which has not taken the carriers is evacuated in the stools). However, the liver has need of cholesterol to produce bile salts (which are used in the digestion).
Without the contributions of the power supply, it is obliged to capture of the LDL-cholesterol circulating in the blood, which is gradually lower the concentration.
A daily consumption of plant sterol between 1 and 3 g allows you to obtain a decrease in LDL-cholesterol levels of 5 to 15 %, without necessarily reducing the HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol protector of arteries).
The foods most concentrated plant sterol are the oils of maize, rapeseed, sunflower, soya, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts, grains of maize, sorghum, wheat. The fresh fruit and vegetables also contain less than in proportion.
However, in total, our daily intake does not exceed 200 to 400 mg, this is much less than the effective dose against the cholesterol. If we have too much of LDL-cholesterol, it is recommended that (1) to integrate in its supply of food enriched with phytosterols: dairy specialties (revenue from conventional yoghurt or drink summed sterols) or margarines.
To achieve the effective dose, 1.5 to 3 g of sterols per day, we can associate several products:
-1 pot of dairy specialty = 0.8 g of sterols.
-1 Bottle of dairy specialty to drink = 1.6 g.
-1 teaspoon of margarine enriched = 0.53 to 0.75 g. According to the experts (2), it is unnecessary to exceed 3 g per day. Beyond, the LDL does not decrease further.
The use of fortified foods in phytosterols is recommended only for persons having a blood level of LDL-cholesterol too high.
The phytosterols complement of a regime adapted, or even of cholesterol-lowering medicines (fibrates, statins), which they potentiate the effect.
As a preventative measure, when we do not have too much LDL blood, the phytosterols are not recommended, because while reducing the assimilation of cholesterol, they also reduce that of certain vitamins, beta-carotene or vitamin A, and vitamin E.
To compensate for this, the consumers of phytosterols have also interest to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, in particular, apricots, mangoes, melon, yellow peaches, carrots, parsley, spinach, red peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.
The food enriched with phytosterols are a priori not recommended for children under 5 years old, pregnant or nursing women (except medical agreement in cases of hypercholesterolaemia family).
Finally, the use of phytosterols, to be fully effective, must be accompanied by other dietetic measures: reduction of saturated fats (butter, cheese, cold meats, meat fats, pastries), use of varied oils (rapeseed, walnuts, olive) in kitchen, sufficient consumption of fish (at least 2 times per week), fruit and vegetables (5 per day), whole grains.
(1) supported the therapeutic patient dyslipidemique. Recommendations of the Afssaps, the French agency of health product safety. March 2005.
(2) Scientific Committee for Food. Report on the long-term effects of high intakes of phytosterols. September 2002.