Plant sterols as dietary adjuvants in the reduction of cardiovascular risk: theory and evidence
Plant sterol-enriched foods are an effective dietary adjuvant in reducing cardiovascular risk by lowering total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) in serum by up to ~15%. The mechanism of action of plant sterols is different from those of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A inhibitors (statins) and thus their effect is additive. Combining plant sterols with other dietary components known to reduce cholesterol in a portfolio approach have proven to be most effective agents for reduction of hypercholesterolemia and provide an alternative treatment option for clinicians. Plant sterol-enriched foods provide clinicians with a relatively cheap, safe, and effective way to help patients manage their cardiovascular risk.