Just what are plant stanols and sterols and why does
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend them
as a natural approach for lowering cholesterol?
Stanols and sterols are natural substances found in
plants that have a structural resemblance to
Because they look a lot like cholesterol, they compete
with cholesterol for absorption from the intestine into
The NIH recommends that people with elevated
cholesterol consume 2 grams of plant stanols and
sterols a day because over 80 clinical studies have
proven that they work.
Two grams a day of stanols and sterols is sufficient to
lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 9 to 13%.
And many other clinical studies have shown that
lowering LDL cholesterol by that much will lower your
risk of a heart attack by 18-26%.
No wonder the NIH is so bullish on stanols and sterols!
Here are answers to other questions that you haven’t
even thought of yet:
If 2 grams a day is good, would more be better?
No. Studies clearly show that 2 grams/day is optimal.
Higher intakes do not lead to a significantly greater
reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Are there any side effects from consuming plant stanols
& sterols on a daily basis?
No. That’s the great thing. Plant sterols and stanols
are natural substances that we consume every day – and
clinical studies have shown that they have no side
Is there some magical stanol/sterol combination that is
more effective than others (as some supplement
manufacturers would have you believe)?
Again, the answer is no. Numerous studies have shown
that stanols and sterols from many different sources
have exactly the same effect and that it doesn’t matter
whether they are esterified or not.
Can I get 2 grams a day of stanols and sterols from my
It’s unlikely. Even the best natural sources (usually
fruits and vegetables) only have 5 to 40 mg per
serving. If you are a vegetarian you can expect to get
around 700 mg from your diet. If you consume a typical
American diet you get around 250 mg and if you eat a
lot of fast food you are probably getting less than 100
I’ve noticed that food manufactures have started
fortifying foods with stanols and/or sterols. Is this a
good choice for me?
You need to remember that Big Food Inc is not always
your friend.To get 2 grams of stanols from Benecol you
would need to consume 280 calories, 4 grams of
saturated fat and 1.2 grams of trans fat. Two grams of
stanols from Promise activ Super-Shot only costs you 70
calories, but it comes with artificial colors and 8
grams of sugar plus sucralose.
When should I consume stanols and sterols if I want to
maximize my LDL cholesterol reduction?
Any time from 30 minutes prior to your meal to with
your meal is ideal – but the plant sterols and stanols
will exert their beneficial effects for several hours
so the time that you take the stanols & sterols is not
Are plant sterols and stanols a source of dietary
No. Plant stanols & sterols and dietary fiber work by
different mechanisms – but they do complement each
other in lowering LDL cholesterol. You should consider
them a powerful one-two punch in your battle to lower
your LDL cholesterol naturally.
What about if I am taking statin drugs?
I’m already taking a statin drug. Is it OK to take
plant stanols & sterols as well.
Absolutely. The NIH recommends that people using statin
drugs also follow their Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes
(TLC) diet – which includes 2 grams of plant stanols &
sterols a day.
In fact, because the effects of statins and plant
sterols & stanols are additive, you may be able to
reduce your dosage of statins or eliminate them
entirely – which means less cost and less risk of side
effects to you. [Note: You should partner with your
physician in determining the dosage of statins to
Should I ask my doctor before taking plant stanols &
We always recommend that you keep your doctor informed
about what you are doing. However, because the NIH
recommends plant sterols and stanols for people with
elevated cholesterol, your doctor is very likely to
I’ll bet you didn’t even know that you had so many
questions about plant stanols and sterols.
To Your Health!
Dr. Stephen G Chaney
Shaklee Corporation makes a Stanol Sterol Product that makes it easy to get the benefits of these Natural Stanols and Sterols in a product called Choelsterol Reduction Complex. Each serving delivers 2000 mg of stanols and sterols recommended to lower your cholesterol naturally.