Phytosterols are considered the plant equivalent to animal cholesterol. Because they are similar in structure to cholesterol, phytosterols compete with cholesterol absorption in the intestines, thereby inhibiting absorption of both dietary cholesterol and cholesterol made by the liver. People consume phytosterols every day in their diets as all plants contain them, but not in amounts sufficient to affect cholesterol levels. Therefore, in addition to prescription drugs and dietary changes, supplementing with phytosterols may also be very effective. In fact, The National Cholesterol Education Program (established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) recommends plant sterols as part of their Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet for patients with high cholesterol.
Our bodies actually need cholesterol, as it helps to make cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D, and is important for brain function. What we do not need is an excessive build-up of cholesterol in the wrong places, such as in our arteries, because this may lead to heart disease. When your doctor tests your cholesterol, there are three main readings to look at:
• Total cholesterol – a measure of LDLs, HDLs, and other lipid components
• LDLs – transport cholesterol into tissues, where an overabundance can build up in your arteries to form plaque (atherosclerosis), which is undesirable
• HDLs – remove excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, which may help prevent heart disease
Total/HDL ratio: the proportion of total cholesterol levels over HDL levels. Aim for your ratio to be below 5, with optimal levels around 3.5.
• Take 3 capsules per day, 1 with each meal, or as directed by your health care practitioner.
• Consult a health care practitioner if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
• It is also recommended that you exercise (with the consent of your physician). Does not contain gluten.
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