- sterols vegetable now they are widely advertised in the media, included in yoghurts and other foods, but can they really help lower cholesterol?
High cholesterol is one of the most common and widespread diseases in Italy.
For this reason, you will probably have had to deal with it, or even suffer it yourself.
Probably, like the 65% of Italians1, you are in a condition "borderline", or you have cholesterol at the limit, high but not very high.
If it rises a little bit more, however, you will begin to suffer from hypercholesterolemia, also called high cholesterol.
Your doctor will surely have told you that if this happens just take some medications, the famous statins, to lower your cholesterol.
But did he also talk to you about the side effects of these drugs?
Liver, muscle damage, and increased chances of becoming diabetic.
And above all, did he tell you that it is a therapy that you will have to continue throughout your life?
It is not a precisely rosy perspective.
If you found yourself in this situation, surely you will have questions.
Are there natural alternatives to statins?
Is it possible to lower cholesterol without statins?
And above all, is it possible to reduce the amount of statins taken, and therefore decrease the side effects?
Here, in this article I want to talk to you about this: natural alternatives, effective and with overwhelming scientific evidence behind us.
They have only one disadvantage: pharmaceutical companies cannot patent them and earn money.
- 1 VEGETABLE STEROLS AGAINST CHOLESTEROL
- 2 INTEGRATORS OF VEGETABLE STEROLS
- 3 VEGETABLE STEROLS AND STATINS: THE WINNING COUPLE
VEGETABLE STEROLS AGAINST CHOLESTEROL
The largest family of plant compounds that act as natural statins is undoubtedly that of the plant sterols, Also called phytosterols.
They are molecules with a structure almost identical to that of cholesterol, but without the same harmful effects on our health.
This means that when they are in our intestines, they are absorbed in its place.
Why is this mechanism so effective?
Because this way you go to drastically reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed.
In fact, cholesterol is partly absorbed by nutrition, and partly produced by our own body, as it serves many things including cell formation.
The cholesterol that is produced in a manner of our body is rarely high, except in cases of genetic familiarity, because our body knows exactly what it needs.
Usually the problem is cholesterol taken with food, particularly with dishes rich in animal fats.
I'm talking to you about the dreaded "bad cholesterol”, Linked to many deadly heart diseases, such as stroke and heart attack.
Bad cholesterol, also called LDL, is usually high when eating incorrectly.
It is therefore enough to fight the bad diet to lower it.
But, as you have probably been able to experience on your skin, this does not always turn out to be so simple and feasible.
Plant sterols come to you right here.
Already in the beginning if you eat foods rich in plant sterols you will avoid taking animal fats and therefore cholesterol, and in addition, if you eat them anyway, perhaps during another meal, phytosterols will prevent its absorption.
You can continue your usual diet, just add some food rich in plant sterols, or even more simply a supplement, and your body will absorb less cholesterol.
This could make a huge difference if you are at the limit between being healthy and being sick.
HOW MANY VEGETABLE STEROLS SHOULD YOU TAKE EVERY DAY TO LOWER THE CHOLESTEROL?
EFSA, or the European Food Safety Authority, has conducted studies that have shown that 1,5 grams per day of plant sterols are able to lower 10,5% cholesterol in just two weeks2.
This value is more than enough to carry an individual borderline at a safe and healthy level of cholesterol.
In short, plant sterols can do the difference between being healthy and being sick.
Why not give it a chance, and maybe avoid having to take statins forever?
FOODS RICH IN VEGETABLE STEROLS
In practice, which phytosterol foods should you include in your diet to lower bad cholesterol?
Here are the foods richest in plant sterols ever.
- Vegetable oils: in particular that of rice and that of corn seeds. Unfortunately, to take 1,5 grams of phytosterols you should eat about fifteen teaspoons, so they may not be the only solution.
- Wheat germ: a food rich in fiber, which always does very well, but an average portion provides 0,2 grams of plant sterols, so even in this case, adding only this food would not be effective.
- Dried Fruit: we have already talked to you about them effect against blood sugar, but walnuts are also useful for lowering cholesterol5. As you can now imagine, however, the sterols contained in nuts and the like are not enough to reach 1,5 grams a day, unless you decide to eat a kilo 🙂
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower.
But then, if no food is sufficient to reach the effective dose, what is the solution?
How can you make sure you are getting enough plant sterols to lower your bad cholesterol?
INTEGRATORS OF VEGETABLE STEROLS
The simplest, safest and most accurate solution is always to take a supplement.
Plant sterol supplements usually also contain a mix of different plant phytosterols, which can then attack your cholesterol in so many ways to get a better effect.
You will not have to change your eating habits, you will not have to take unlikely amounts of vegetable oils: simply remember to take your supplement after meals.
I give you some advice though: it is better to take supplements whose recommended daily dose is higher than a single tablet.
That is: it is better not to take a single dose a day, but divide it into several doses after meals.
This is because it has been shown that taking plant sterol supplements in several times during the day, at the same dose, increases efficacy against cholesterol3.
In choosing your supplement then check how many tablets you will need to take each day and prefer those with a quantity greater than one.
Keep in mind that just over one gram per day of phytosterols is enough to reduce cholesterol.
Increase the dose in an exaggerated manner, thus taking more than 1,5 grams a day, is of no use: it is not reduced more than that3.
VEGETABLE STEROLS AND STATINS: THE WINNING COUPLE
In some cases, bad cholesterol can be very high, and plant sterols alone are not always able to lower it sufficiently.
For those suffering from very severe hypercholesterolemia, however, sometimes even traditional drugs, or statins, are sufficient.
How can you do if the statins don't lower your cholesterol enough?
Also in this case the plant sterols come to meet you.
It has been shown that taking both traditional statins and plant sterols simultaneously enhances their benefits against LDL cholesterol.
This effect is called synergy.
The effect obtained by using this pair of molecules is greater than that obtained by using them separately.
When it comes to statins and phytosterols together, 1 + 1 doesn't make 2, but it does 3!
According to an American study4, 2 grams per day of plant sterols are able to decrease the bad cholesterol by an additional 20% compared to what is decreased by taking only the statins.
VEGETABLE STEROL SUPPLEMENTS FOR THOSE WHO TAKE THE STATINES
If you are already taking statins but the bad cholesterol has remained high, you could consider together with your doctor to also take a plant sterol supplement.
Phytosterols increase the effectiveness of statins, but not the side effects.
Instead of taking a higher dose of statins, and thus increasing the side effects along with the positive ones, you just need to increase their effectiveness by combining them with plant sterols.
I recommend you, as always, to talk to your doctor before starting to take plant sterol supplements, and to evaluate a possible phytosterolemia, incompatible with taking high doses of phytosterols with the diet.
And you, are you a borderline subject or a severe hypercholesterolemic? Do you want to lower that ugly number on your blood tests a little or are you already taking statins? Did your doctor tell you that there was a valid and scientifically proven alternative to statins?
Let me know if you found this article interesting, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to comment! I will be very happy to answer you.
See you soon,
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The information provided by the manuelcasadei.com website is not intended to diagnose, treat and prevent any discomfort or disease. The user of this website is always responsible for his health and Manuel Casadei encourages you to follow these advice with the approval and supervision of a trusted doctor and disclaims any responsibility for actions taken following what is written in these pages.
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