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Sterols and Stanols

Sterols and stanols are the plant equivalent of cholesterol and are naturally found in a wide range of plant based foods in very small amounts. When eaten daily in larger amounts they can help to lower cholesterol. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol our bodies can recycle.

How much do I need to eat daily?

1.5-2.4g of plant sterol and stanols are required daily, as part of a low saturated fat diet, in order to make a cholesterol reduction of 7-10% over a 3 week period. There are lots of foods now available in the chiller cabinets of stores that are fortified with plant sterols and stanols.  Look out for them.

It is important to take these foods as part of a meal, as they only work by mixing with the food you have eaten. You can opt for a one-a-day mini drink, which contains the daily amount all in one go, or spread your sterol/stanol intake through the day by using the spreads, yoghurt and milk.

How to achieve your daily target

Choose either

  • One sterol/stanol fortified mini drink (65-100ml bottle)

Or two-three of the following:

  • 250ml of sterol/stanol fortified milk
  • 10-12g of sterol/stanol fortified spread (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 sterol/stanol fortified yoghurt

 Make sure all products that you buy clearly say that they have been fortified with plant sterols or stanols.

Caution - Foods fortified with plant sterols and stanols:

  • only use these products if you need to lower your cholesterol
  • not suitable for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless advised by your doctor.
  • consume as part of a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables

Do not exceed more than 3g per day of sterol and stanols – more than this amount will not increase the amount of cholesterol lowering.

Essential links

Soya foods
Oats, barley and other soluble fibre rich foods

Supported by an educational 
grant from Alpro UK Ltd.

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Plant sterols

Plant sterols cholesterol lowering effects have been known for some time.