Sterols are organic chemical compounds, which are distributed in both the animal and plant kingdoms. They are also an important element for the formation of the structure of cell membranes and are divided into two very similar structures: phytosterols and phytostanols.
In the following article we will delve into what phytosterols are, what are the benefits they bring to the body and where they are found.
What are phytosterols?
Phytosterols are natural components that, due to their nature, help to maintain the structure of cell membranes . They are considered allies of the organism for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
They contain a double bond in their molecular structure that differentiates them from phytostanols, which are their reduced form. They are present in almost all foods of plant origin and therefore are very present in the human diet.
Note: They are characterized a lot by having a structure very similar to that of cholesterol.
Benefits of phytosterols for the body
Phytosterols have a wide range of benefits for our body, which will be mentioned and described below, thus allowing their knowledge and identification.
Decreases the absorption of cholesterol and other lipids
It happens that because the structure of both components is very similar, both compete with each other for absorption at the intestinal level.
Note: Phytosterols have an advantage and prevalence in absorption , so the body eliminates through evacuation as much cholesterol as possible. (1)
Reduces the adherence of fats to the arteries
Due to the reduction in concentrations of cholesterol and other types of lipids in the body, there are no accumulations that lead to the adherence of fats in the arteries, which benefits our body and the entire cardiovascular system.
Control blood glucose
They produce a stimulation in the uptake of glucose in the organism , thus allowing a mechanism that favors hyperglycemic people . It also favors the metabolism of these components, as well as that of lipids. (two)
Note: Products such as aloe vera and red wine are recommended for their glucose-lowering ability due to their phytosterol content.
Contribute to weight loss
Significant weight reductions are produced , due to its ability to digest and suppress fats and lipids in the body. Not satisfied with that, it is important to highlight that being a component that is usually present in foods of plant origin, they allow the consumption of a balanced diet and therefore, favor metabolism.
Help prevent some types of cancer
There are scientific contributions that have studied the ability to delay both the advancement of cancer and tumors that have appeared in the body. Phytosterols then inhibit the appearance of cancer , if they are constantly present in the diet. (3)
Note: Even during the period of time that cancer treatment occurs, a diet with foods rich in phytosterols is often recommended.
Where are phytosterols found?
Phytosterols are present in a wide range of foods of plant origin, as we have been mentioning throughout the article. They are listed and briefly described below.
Phytosterols are usually present in seeds, the raw material for vegetable oils that are usually present in our diet . Phytosterols usually have a great genetic variability that influences their concentration in each type of seed. (4)
To highlight: There are, apart from the genetics of the seeds, environmental influences that can produce 90% variations in the phytosterol content, among these factors we can mention: soil, practices and stress.
They are one of the best sources of phytosterols, and one of the most recommended to be added to daily consumption to obtain its benefits. Among the nuts that are within this category, we can mention:
Fruits and vegetables
Although its content is low in fruits and vegetables (approximately 2 mg per 100 g), they are one of the most viable and safe sources for the consumption of these components. Above all, because almost all foods of this origin will have in their composition, at least a minimum percentage of phytosterols.
Note: There are another great variety that are of industrial benefit for the production of oils, which continue to contribute to the diet as long as they are contemplated in a healthy and balanced consumption.
Among these whole grains , rice and wheat can be highlighted, among which their consumption is usually quite wide in the market and is valued for its benefits. In the complete or integral grain, these components are present, thus allowing the decrease of values prone to destabilize the organism, such as glucose and cholesterol.
Legumes are those products such as soybeans, lentils, among others that have a low concentration of phytosterols, except for beans, which have the greatest capacity to contribute phytosterols to the daily diet.
- Phytosterols are components of plant origin that favor the body due to their structure similar to cholesterol, but more akin to its absorption.
- Phytosterols allow the reduction of cholesterol levels in our body, as long as they come with an adequate diet.
- Due to their origin and their structure, they allow a reduction of fat and weight , in addition to favoring the control of glucose in the blood,
- The consideration of the sources of phytosterols and their importance in the organism will allow the creation of a balanced diet.