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Plant sterols and stanols are natural compounds found in various plants and are receiving increasing attention in nutritional medicine. Their ability to lower blood cholesterol levels makes them an important component of natural cardiovascular prevention.

Discovery and historical significance

The discovery of plant sterols dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Researchers discovered that certain plant substances have a similar structure to cholesterol and can block its absorption in the intestine. In the 1950s, the first detailed studies were carried out which showed that plant sterols can effectively lower cholesterol levels.

Dosage forms and dosage

They are available in various forms:

  • Fortified foods: yogurts, margarines and dairy products.
  • Food supplements: Capsules or tablets.

The recommended dosage for lowering cholesterol levels is around 2 grams per day. This amount has been shown in studies to be effective without causing significant side effects.

Possible healing effects

Plant sterols and stanols are mainly used to lower LDL cholesterol (the so-called “bad” cholesterol). If taken regularly, the risk of cardiovascular disease can be significantly reduced. There is also evidence that they may be useful in the prevention of certain types of cancer.

Plant sterols and stanols: How they work in the body

The main effect of these plant substances is to block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. They compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestinal mucosa, resulting in less cholesterol entering the bloodstream.

Optimal time of intake and target groups

The intake is particularly recommended for people with high cholesterol levels or an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Ideally, they should be taken with meals in order to effectively reduce the absorption of cholesterol from food.

Plant sterols and stanols: Contraindications

It is not recommended for people with sitosterolemia, a rare genetic disorder that leads to an excessive accumulation of sterols in the body.

Recommended supplements

In addition to sterols and stanols, other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, garlic extracts and soluble fiber (e.g., psyllium) can also promote heart health. These substances complement the effects of sterols and stanols by acting on various aspects of cardiovascular health.

Plant sterols and stanols: Rich food sources

They occur naturally in many foods:

  • Nuts and seeds (especially sunflower seeds and pine nuts)
  • Vegetable oils (e.g. sesame oil and corn oil)
  • Wholemeal products
  • Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and spinach

Side effects and overdose

At the recommended dosage, plant sterols and stanols are generally well tolerated. However, an overdose can lead to digestive disorders or reduced absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It is important to discuss the intake with a specialist in order to avoid negative effects.

Plant sterols and stanols: Traditional use in naturopathy

In naturopathy, plant sterols are often used as part of a broader treatment for hypercholesterolemia and for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. They are considered safe and effective when used as part of a balanced diet.


Plant sterols and stanols offer a natural and effective way to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Incorporating them into your daily diet can be part of a healthy lifestyle, especially for people who are prone to heart problems. As with all dietary supplements, it is important to personalize the intake and pay attention to the quality of the products.

Published on: 29. April 2024


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