Plant Sterols

Do They Have Any Health Benefits?

What are the health benefits of plant strerols?

Plant sterols are cholesterol-like substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Since they are structurally similar to the cholesterol found in animal fats, such as meat and dairy, they will compete with the cholesterol to be absorbed into the bloodstream when eaten. As plant sterols are more easily absorbed by the body, they help to block the cholesterol from being taken in, hence, the cholesterol would only pass through the body and is expelled in the stools. This helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Since they have robust cholesterol-lowering properties, manufacturers have started to add them to foods, such as margarine spreads, orange juice, yogurt drinks, cereals, and even granola bars. 

Cooking oils contain plant sterols

Cold pressed oils also contain plant sterols, which are present in higher amounts than refined oils. Plant sterol measurement of refined alternative decreases by up to 40% due to bleaching and deodorisation during refining process. If you wish to consume more plant sterols from oil, cold pressed oils with high amount of plant sterols such as Camelina Oil (Chart 1) is your best bet. 

Amount of plant sterol in cooking oil (mg/100g)

Amount of plant sterols in cooking oil (mg/100g)

Cholesterol-lowering effect of camelina oil

According to a study, the use of Camelina Oil reduces total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels1, which may be attributed to high plant sterol and omega-3 fatty acids contents in the Camelina Oil. In this study, the participants were instructed to take 30ml dose of Camelina Oil daily for 12 weeks. The results showed that Camelina Oil group had lower total and LDL cholesterol levels compared to groups consuming fatty fish or lean fish. This suggests the remarkable health benefits of Camelina Oil on blood lipid profile. 

In a nutshell…

To maintain healthy cholesterol levels, 2 tablespoons (30ml) of Camelina Oil daily is recommended. Camelina Oil is a highly versatile oil. It is not only suitable for all types of cooking methods, but can also be consumed directly without cooking, for immense health benefits. 

Reference:

1. Mol Nutr Food Res.2018 Feb;62(4).