Plant sterols/stanols are compounds that interfere with cholesterol absorptions. This property makes them useful as cholesterol-lowering agents, either by themselves or as an adjuvant with hypolipidemic pharmacological agents. This entry reviews the history, commonly available forms, efficacy for cholesterol lowering, mechanism of action, and current available sources of plant sterol/stanols.

In the early 1950s, relatively high doses of plant derived sterols (5–10 g/d) were reported to decrease serum cholesterol levels. The preparation used, cytellin, was a plant sterol suspension derived from a mixture of soy and tall oils. For a brief period of time, they were used for the reduction of blood cholesterol concentrations. With the introduction of drugs such as statins (inhibitors of endogenous cholesterol synthesis, HMG-CoA [3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A] reductase inhibitors) that had higher efficacy ...

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