Beta sitosterols, also referred to as plant sterols and phytosterols, are natural chemicals known to lower cholesterol. Plant sterols lower cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from food into the stomach. You can obtain beta sitosterols through foods naturally high in them.
Even though it almost seems counterintuitive, given that beta sitosterols lower cholesterol, a normal serving (about 14 g) of margarine includes about 70 mg of beta sitosterols. Eating oils such as corn, vegetable and soybean is one way to get approximately 95 mg (from approximately a 224 g serving) of beta sitosterols per day. Household vegetable shortening also contains plant sterols.
Nuts and Beans
An array of nuts and beans are rich in beta sitosterols. Even though they do not contain as much plant sterols, nut and beans are on the list of foods high in beta sitosterols. A serving of approximately 95 g of macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, filberts or hazelnuts, or walnuts all contain between 20 to 47 mg of beta sitosterols. Fava beans and pink lentils are two types of beans that also contain the cholesterol-lowering chemical.
Beta sitosterols aren’t just in healthy foods. Corn-based snacks, such as tortilla chips, contain beta sitosterols, about 57 mg of plant sterols per serving (about 190 g). That’s not bad for something that tastes so good. For those with a sweet tooth, plain baking chocolate also contains about 34 mg of beta sitosterols per serving (130 g).
Veggies and Fruits
Those corn chips don’t have to be eaten alone, as avocados contain some of the highest amounts of beta sitosterols. A single avocado can deliver a 95 mg punch of beta sitosterol. Mashed potatoes, serrano peppers, cilantro and grape leaves all contain upwards of 20 mg of beta sitosterols. Raw pomegranate and lemongrass contain between 8 to 10 mg of the cholesterol-lowering power of beta sitosterols.
Beta Sitosterols in Daily Diet
The list above offers an array of foods that can be incorporated into one's daily diet routine in order to reduce cholesterol levels. For those interested in naturally lowering cholesterol levels, discuss these food options with your general practitioner to make sure that they are right for you.