The Holistic Lifestyle
Volume 1, number 2
Copyright © Holistic International™ 2000
Phytosterols (plant sterols and sterolins, as well as campesterol and sigmasterol) are fatty components of plants which are stripped from the diet by food processing and cooking, and which support human health in many ways. Various combinations of sterols and sterolins have been shown to improve symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)12, improve some autoimmune disorders16,17 lower cholesterol when taken with a meal18, and to possibly prove helpful in type II and type I diabetes. Women who get more phytosterols in their diet are less likely to develop breast cancer21, and phytosterols slow the growth and spread of human breast, prostate14, and colon15 cancer cells in animal and test tube models. They have anti-inflammatory powers23, and are powerful immune modulators21.
Unfortunately, most phytosterol products utilize a poor extraction process, which reduces their bioavailability and introduces an unnaturally low ratio of sterolins to sterols. The most readily available such product begins with a sterol extract from one source (pine oil), using an extraction method, which almost completely removes the natural sterolins, and then adds in sterolins separately from soy. The resulting amalgamation has one hundred times as much sterol as the more fragile sterolins, a ratio much lower than is found in whole foods: natural sources contain a 10% or better content of sterolins, with some foods providing as much as 80% sterolins by weight24. Such low ratios become even worse upon ingestion, because the body absorbs two to five times less sterolins than it does sterol24, so that a 100:1 sterol-to-sterolin mixture may actually provide as unbalanced a ratio as 200:1 or 500:1 in the body--ratios far lower than those required for optimal immune enhancement21 .
These products are not useless, but they do not live up to the potential of a more natural phytosterol supplement. A ratio of one milligram of sitosterols to 5-10 milligrams of plant sterols is optimal, according to one of the foremost authorities on the role of phytosterols in human nutrition. These ratios can be achieved by using a solvent-free, whole-food plant extraction process from sprouts. The higher content of sterolins in such extracts may increase the bioavailability of the whole mixture. As well, such extraction methods hold onto many health-promoting phytochemicals and vegetal trace minerals which are lost to more heavily processed products. Whole-food sprout extracts deliver a full spectrum of phytonutrients, in their optimal dosage, form, and ratios - as Nature intended.
12. Wilt TJ, MacDonald R, Ishani A. beta.sitosterol for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia a systematic review BJU Int. 1999 Jun;83(9): 976-83.
13. Awad AR, Downie A, Fink CS, Kim U. Dietary phytosterol inhibits the growth and metastasis of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells grown in SCID mice. Anticancer Ret. 2000 Mar-Apr; 20(2A): 821-4.
14. von Holzt RL, Fink CS, Awad AB. beta-Sitosterol activates the sphingomyelin cycle and induces apoptosis in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer. 1998; 32(1): 8-12.
15. Awad AR, von Holtz RL, Cone JP, Fink CS, Chin YC. beta-Sitosterol inhibits growth of HT-29 human colon cancer cells by activating the sphingomyelin cycle. Anticancer Ret. 1998 Jan-Feb; 18(IA): 471-3.
16. Ramakrishanamacharya CH, Krisbnaswamy MR, Rosa RB, Viswanathan S. Anti-inflammatory efflcacy of Melothria madraspatana in active rheumatoid arthritis. Clin Rheumatol 1996 Mar; 15(2): 214-5.
17. Zorn J. New aspects in rheumatism therapy. Experiences with a sitosterin- preparation in chronic polyarthritis. Med Welt. 1981 Jan 23;32(4): 135-8.
18. Law M. Plant sterol and stanol margarines and health. BMJ. 2000 Mar25; 320(7238):861-4.
19. Sutherland WH, Scott RS, Lintott CJ, Robertson MC, Stapely SA, Cox C. Plasma non-cholesterol sterols in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Horm Metab Res. 1992 Apr;24 (4):172 -5.
20. Ivorra MD, DO ‘Con MP, Paya M, Villar A. Anti-hyperglycemica and insulin releasing effects of beta-sitosterol 3-B-D.glucoside and its aglycone beta-sitosterol. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1988 April; 296:224-31.
21. Bouic PJ, Etsebeth S, Liebenberg RW, Albrecht , (Pegel K, Van Jaarsveld PP. beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside stimulate human peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation: implications for their use as an immunomodulatoryvitamin combination..Int J Immunopharmacol 1996 Dec; 18U2):693-700.
22. Ronco A, De Stefani E, Boffttta F, Deneo-Pellegrini H, Mendilaharsu M, Leborgne F. Vegetables, fruits, and related nutrients and risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Uruguqy. Nutr Cancer 1999; 35(2): 111-9.
23. Gupta MB, Natb R, Srivastava N Shanker K, Kishor K, Bhargava KP. Anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities of beta-sitosterol Plonta Med. 1980 Jan; 39(2): 157-63.
24. Pegel KH. The importance of sitosterol and sitosterolin in human and animal nutrition. S Afr J Sci. 1997 June; 93: 263-8.
25. Solen C, Ahrens EH Jr, Grandy SM. Metabolism of beta-sitostosterol in man. J Clin Invest. 1970 May; 49(5): 952 -6 7.
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