Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant Sterol Pills Significantly Lower LDL Cholesterol

Date:
March 13, 2006
Source:
Washington University School of Medicine
Summary:
A pill containing plant substances called sterols can help lower cholesterol, according to researchers. The researchers studied patients who already were eating a heart-healthy diet and taking statin drugs to control cholesterol. The addition of plant sterols helped further lower total cholesterol and contributed to a nearly 10 percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol.

This image shows a blood vessel that has become narrowed due to the build-up of cholesterol and other vessel-clogging substances.
Credit: Image courtesy of FDA

A pill containing plant substances called sterols can help lower cholesterol, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers studied patients who already were eating a heart-healthy diet and taking statin drugs to control cholesterol. The addition of plant sterols helped further lower total cholesterol and contributed to a nearly 10 percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. Results of the study were published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that those with elevated cholesterol eat foods containing plant sterols as a way to lower cardiovascular risk, but many sterol-containing foods are inconvenient for some patients.

Structurally similar to cholesterol, plant sterols can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut by competing with cholesterol to get absorbed and transported into the body. When consumed in the diet, sterols are known to lower cholesterol levels, but sterols are not readily absorbed in the intestine unless they have been dissolved in something that the intestine can easily absorb. Because sterols are not water-soluble, past strategies have involved dissolving them in fat.

Most sterol-containing foods studied so far have been brands of margarine. Studies have found that a daily intake of one or two tablespoons of sterol-containing margarine could significantly lower LDL cholesterol. Some juices and puddings also contain plant sterols.

"One problem is many of our patients already have lowered their intake of fats and calories and don't use products like margarine on a regular basis," says Anne Carol Goldberg, M.D., lead author of the new study and associate professor of medicine at Washington University. "In addition, many of these people eat out regularly, and they can't easily take a particular brand of margarine to a restaurant."

To deliver the sterols in pill form, the plant compounds were combined with a substance called lecithin and compressed into tablets. When mixed with lecithin, the normally insoluble sterols are able to dissolve in water and get absorbed in the intestine.

Goldberg's team studied 26 patients who were following the American Heart Association Heart Healthy Diet and taking statin drugs to control cholesterol. Over six weeks, half were randomly assigned to take inactive placebo pills while the rest took sterol tablets. All patients ingested four tablets, twice daily with meals, while continuing to take statin drugs.

After treatment, those who took the sterol pills averaged a 9 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 6 percent decline in total cholesterol. And Goldberg's team found that the higher the LDL before the study began, the greater the drop in the bad cholesterol.

"Those who started with higher LDL got a bigger response, a bigger drop in their LDL, when they added plant sterols to their regimen," Goldberg says.

The plant sterols appear to provide an effective way to lower cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol, according to Goldberg. But she says the sterols probably will work best when given as an additional therapy, and she recommends they be used in combination with diet and/or cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

"This type of treatment would be in addition to dietary changes and other medication," she says. "There probably are some people who have very mild abnormalities in cholesterol who could get by with a sterol supplement alone, but people with higher cholesterol levels will need medication, too. They'll take plant sterols in addition to other therapies and benefit from the additive effect we observed in this study."

Goldberg says it would be useful to try and replicate these findings in larger studies.

"We used a small sample size, but we still saw a significant effect," she says.

The sterol pills used in the study are not yet commercially available.

Goldberg AC, Ostlund RE, Bateman JH, Schimmoeller L, McPherson TB, Spilburg CA. Effect of plant stanol tablets on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering in patients on statin drugs. American Journal of Cardiology, vol. 97:3, pp. 376-379, Feb. 2006.

This research was supported by Lifeline Technologies and by a Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University School of Medicine. "Plant Sterol Pills Significantly Lower LDL Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308201639.htm>.
Washington University School of Medicine. (2006, March 13). Plant Sterol Pills Significantly Lower LDL Cholesterol. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308201639.htm
Washington University School of Medicine. "Plant Sterol Pills Significantly Lower LDL Cholesterol." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060308201639.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins