Plant sterols are secondary phytonutrients. They are mostly found in high-fat parts of plant stanol esters such as oils, nuts, and seeds.
Phytosterols have a chemical structure that is very similar to cholesterol. They use a certain mechanism to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the blood in the small intestine. The body draws on its own reserves and the cholesterol level drops.
Phytosterols are considered to be novel foods and must go through an approval process in the many countries before they can be placed on the market. Approval has already been granted for a large number of products such as diet margarines and yogurts.
Herbal sterols, stanols saturated derivatives of sterolsand their esters are believed to have a health benefit. They should not only lower the cholesterol level, but also counteract colon cancer. Hence, they are used in a wide variety of novel foods and healthy yogurt drinks.
Foods with phytosterols have side effects, so they should be treated with the same care as you would with medication. There are indications that the phytosterols also impair the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and provitamin A. They are therefore only recommended for people with a proven high cholesterol level.
Vegetable sterols are mainly obtained from oil-containing plants, especially soybeans. First of all, a crude oil is extracted from the soybeans that refinedwill. At the end of the process, any disruptive taste and odor substances are removed deodorization. At this stage an extract is taken from which the phytosterols are isolated after further purification and processing. One uses for the esterification Fatty acidsor triglycerides. Esters are saturated compounds and therefore have a higher fat solubility.