Effects of plant sterols and stanols on lipid metabolism and cardiovascular risk.

J. Plat, R.P. Mensink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Functional foods enriched with plant sterols and stanols are on sale in many countries. Due to their structural similarity with cholesterol, these additives lower intestinal absorption of cholesterol, resulting in a 10-15% reduction in LDL-cholesterol when their daily intakes are 2-3 g. They are also effective as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet and in combination with cholesterol-lowering drugs. Estimates for the absorption of plant sterols (sitosterol and campesterol) and of campestanol are around 10%, and for sitostanol less than 5%. Lipid-standardized plasma levels are very low, but increase when statins are used. Extensive toxicological evaluation studies have not revealed any harmful side-effects. In human studies, side-effects were comparable to placebo treatment. However, lipid-standardized levels of the hydrocarbon carotenoids may decrease, without leaving the normal range. Together, these findings indicate that these functional foods have great potential in the prevention of coronary heart disease. However, post-marketing surveillance for example for functional foods in general is necessary to monitor possible adverse effects and describe consumers and consumption patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


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