Recent animal and human studies have shown that plant sterols and stanols, which are used as functional food ingredients to lower increased LDL cholesterol concentrations, pass the blood-brain barrier. Whether this affects neurocognitive functioning and mental well-being in humans has, to our knowledge, never been investigated. The aim of the present study was therefore to examine the effects of long-term plant sterol or stanol consumption on neurocognitive functioning and mood in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled dietary intervention trial. To this end, hypercholesterolemic individuals, aged 43-69 y, receiving stable statin treatment were randomly assigned to an 85-wk supplementation with margarines enriched with plant sterol esters (2.5 g/d), plant stanol esters (2.5 g/d), or placebo. At baseline and at the end of the intervention period, all participants underwent a cognitive assessment. In addition, subjective cognitive functioning and mood were assessed by means of questionnaires (Cognitive Failure Questionnaire and depression subscale of the Symptom Checklist 90, respectively). Long-term supplementation with plant sterol or stanol esters did not affect cognitive performance (memory, simple information processing speed, complex information processing speed, Letter-Digit Substitution test performance), subjective cognitive functioning, or mood. In conclusion, the present results indicate that long-term use of plant sterols or stanols at recommended intakes of 2.5 g/d does not affect neurocognitive functioning or mood in hypercholesterolemic individuals receiving statin treatment.
Schiepers, O. J. G., de Groot, R. H., van Boxtel, M. P., Jolles, J., de Jong, A., Lutjohann, D., Plat, J., & Mensink, R. P. (2009). Consuming functional foods enriched with plant sterol or stanol esters for 85 weeks does not affect neurocognitive functioning or mood in statin-treated hypercholesterolemic individuals. Journal of Nutrition, 139(7), 1368-1373. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.108.103721