(NaturalNews) When the human blood cholesterol level is higher than that which can be used by the human body, the surplus cholesterol may eventually cause strokes, and or cardiovascular distress. Medications, such as statins prescribed to lower the blood cholesterol, are themselves known to affect our bodies negatively in the long term. A healthy liver manufactures most of our daily essential cholesterol requirements. Additional cholesterol in the foods we eat is absorbed in the intestines and elevates the blood cholesterol. One way to lower the blood cholesterol is to include foods in our diet that are high in phytosterols.
Phytosterols (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytosterol) , also known as plant sterols, are essential components of plant membranes that perform functions for plants similar to that of cholesterol in humans. Phytosterols in the foods we eat are believed to block cholesterol absorption sites in the human intestine thus helping to reduce cholesterol.
The International Food Information Council (http://www.ific.org/publications/factsheets/...) has published an article that provides positive information on the use of plant sterols and stanols summarized as follows: "Foods and beverages supplemented with plant sterols/stanols may reduce cholesterol and are a promising addition to interventions aimed at lowering heart disease risk. Maximum effects are observed at plant sterol/stanol intakes of approximately two to three grams per day. The level of LDL cholesterol reduction ranges between 6 to 15 percent. A growing body of scientific evidence also suggests other positive health outcomes that include the reduced risk of certain types of cancer."
In one clinical trial (http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/81/...) the abstract states "Plant sterol consumption significantly reduced (P < 0.05) LDL-cholesterol concentrations from baseline in both nondiabetic and diabetic subjects by 15.1% and 26.8%, respectively. The diabetic subjects had significantly (P < 0.05) lower absolute concentrations of total cholesterol after treatment than did the nondiabetic subjects; however, there was no significant difference in the percentage change from the beginning to the end of the trial. There was also a significant decrease (P < 0.05) in absolute non-HDL-cholesterol concentrations after treatment in both groups.
In another article, the author stated that 1.8g per day of phytosterols reduced blood cholesterol up to 12%. There are several types of plant sterols: beta sitosterol, avenasterol, and campesterol to name a few. Another source (http://www.olivado.com/studies2.htm) gives the daily requirements of beta sitosterol as 2g in order to reduce serum cholesterol 10-20%.
A recent article in Science Daily entitled "Pistachios Lower Cholesterol; Provide Antioxidants" (http://sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070...) discusses a clinical trial at Penn State University. The participants experienced blood cholesterol reductions of 8.4 to 11.6 percent after eating 3 ounces (85.05g) of pistachios on a Step I Diet for two weeks.
In another study, the subjects were fed wheat germ either with or without phytosterols. The study showed a 42% reduction in blood cholesterol in those with the phytosterols as opposed to those without. The authors who reported this study included a list of foods and their phytosterol content. Using their list and the USDA nutrient database, I have created a chart for 18 high phytosterol foods that shows the amount of each food that would achieve comparable results as those achieved with the pistachio diet with respect to the lowering of cholesterol. Note that Oils generally require less amounts and nuts and legumes require moderately higher amounts of a given food. Other plant foods require much higher amounts and were excluded from the chart. See High Phytosterol Foods (http://jmyarlott.com/amount.asp) .
John Yarlott developed his writing skills during his career as a Mechanical Engineer with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. His work included testing jet engines and writing the test reports for use by the design and management groups. He later worked at IBM as writer of guides for computer design. He ran technical symposiums and published the hundreds of technical reports on computer packaging. John was also a store systems engineer in IBM marketing where he wrote computer programs for customers that generated reports based on transaction data in the checkout terminals. Johnís last assignment before retiring was as a technical support engineer for IBMís database software. During retirement he wrote training manuals for Microsoft Office Products at Hill & Knowlton, a division of WPP. He wrote web based data acquisition programs that captured human resources data in a MS Access database. The firm had offices in 52 countries therefore using the Internet to communicate with the database in New York was a time saving solution. Now retired for the second time, John has turned his attention to web publishing about matters of his own interest including health, nutrition, food economics, and global energy on his personal website: http://jmyarlott.com .