Whole food sources of phytosterols, such as seeds and nuts, are likely superior to supplements or phytosterol-fortified spreads and beverages.
Nut consumption does not appear to lead to the expected weight gain.
Though nuts and seeds are packed with phytosterols, they are typically prescribed in butter form. I kid you not. Or in margarine—even worse. For those wanting to lower their heart disease risk, eating trans fats is the last thing you need. Eating margarine to get phytosterols is like eating fish to get omega 3s. Remember, food is a package deal. By choosing plant-based sources we can get the nutrients we want, without trans fats or mercury. Eating nuts and seeds offers the good without the bad.
And studies show that smaller more frequent doses may be more effective than one big dose in a spread or pill. Which makes total sense, right? Given the trash-picker analogy? We want to have phytosterols constantly flowing through out gut throughout the day so they‘ll continue to keep stuffing the bins of our intestinal lining cells, allow excess cholesterol to pass.
Another reason that pills may not work as well is that we need fat to optimally absorb phytosterols, so that’s why they package it in margarine spreads, but nature put phytosterols right where you need it--in nuts and seeds, which have more than enough fat. But now there’s like phytosterol-fortified orange juice, and lemonaid, and like with the pills, we would not expect phytosterols to be as effectively absorbed.
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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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.
This closes out a five-part video series on the cholesterol-lowering effects of nuts and seeds. See How Fiber Lowers Cholesterol for an explanation of the "trash-picker analogy," then How Phytosterols Lower Cholesterol and yesterday's video-of-the-day Optimal Phytosterol Dose. I elaborate on the "package deal" concept in Risk Associated With Iron Supplements, Safest Source of B12, Plant Protein Preferable, and Food Is a Package Deal. A few videos (there are more than 50) on why fish are not the best choices for omega 3's include Nerves of Mercury, The Effect of Canned Tuna on Future Wages, andDioxins in the Food Supply. Don't nuts make you fat, though? That's the topic of tomorrow's video-of-the-day Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.
For more context, check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.
Those eating plant-based diets get the most phytosterols, but there is still room for improvement to maximize cholesterol reduction.
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