Those eating plant-based diets get the most phytosterols, but there is still room for improvement to maximize cholesterol reduction.
If our enterocyte trash recovery bins are half filled with phytosterols might vitamins get crowded out too? We didn’t know until last year, but the answer is no, even with a whopping 9 gram dose. Vitamin absorption was unaffected. “Plant stanols dose-dependently decrease bad cholesterol concentrations, but not antioxidant concentrations in our blood
Now 9 grams is like 10 times what we would expect from even a healthy diet There's a plateau effect. At that 9 grams a day you’re way out here at then end, but as you can see, the cholesterol-lowering curve starts to flatten out… at about 2.
So we can pretty much maximize cholesterol-blocking at around 2 grams, 2000 mg. The standard American diet has been measured as low as 78mg a day here’s like a model American Heart Association diet, and this is how high folks eating plant based diets can get—higher than any other diet pattern reported. That could get you a good 5% reduction, but there’s definitely room to bump that up further--if necessary. Those who have improved their diet so much they're no longer eating any cholesterol should be acing their cholesterol tests, but in rare cases your body might not be able to get rid of enough endogenous production. And so doubling phytosterol intake could easily double LDL reduction down to 10%, which could double heart disease risk reduction.
In terms of whole foods sources to maximize cholesterol reduction, seeds provide the most—especially sesame, then nuts—especially pistacio, then legumes like peanuts.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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Are there diminishing returns associated with other phytonutrients? SeeMaxing Out on Antioxidants and Kiwifruit and DNA Repair. The "enterocyte trash recovery bins" of which I speak are an analogy I introduced in How Fiber Lowers Cholesterol, the second of a loose five-part series on the cholesterol-lowering effects of nuts and seeds. Yesterday's video-of-the-day How Phytosterols Lower Cholesterol offered a bit of phytosterol background and tomorrow's video-of-the-day Optimal Phytosterol Source explains why whole food sources (nuts and seeds) are superior to phytosterol-fortified foods and supplements. Which other foods lower cholesterol levels? See New Cholesterol Fighters. And why should one worry about cholesterol in the first place? See Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease, Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain, Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction, and Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of Diet for a few of the five dozen videos I have on the topic. Then, of course, there's athousand other topics—enjoy!
For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Optimal Phytosterol Dose and Source.