USDA study shows plant Sterols lower cholesterol

January 14, 2008

Scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service placed 53 men and women who were already on a low-fat diet on 2.2 grams of plant Sterol Esters a day split into two servings. The Agricultural Research Service Administrator Floyd P. Horn said cholesterol reductions nearly doubled by adding the Sterols to the low-fat diet.
The 53 volunteer subjects in the study ate all of their meals at the research center for six weeks. The first three weeks was a low fat, controlled diet, and for the second three weeks the Sterol Esters were added to the diet. On diet alone total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol dropped 7.3 and 8.4% respectively. When the Sterol Esters were added the total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol dropped 14.1 and 18.2 percent, the figure for LDL is of course better than double, and for total cholesterol the percentage dropped nearly double. However, in 5 of the subjects (that’s about 10% of participants) the low fat diet had no effect and the cholesterol did not drop until they were placed on Sterol Esters. The study information is available on the US Department of Agricultures website.

Plant Phytosterols and Stanols decrease LDL-cholesterol even in the family type of high cholesterol according to meta-analysis

The type of high cholesterol that runs in families (familial hypercholesterolemia) is characterized by very high levels of LDL-cholesterol which contributes to an early development of coronary heart disease. These researchers have performed a systemic review of the efficacy of phytosterols and stanols in treating familial hypercholesterolemia. Four studies matched the meta-analysis inclusion criteria of being stringent, randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled. On average the phytosterols and stanols decreased total cholesterol by 7% to 11% in these subjects and decreased LDL-cholesterol by 10% to 15%. The meta-analysis is published in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The National Cholesterol Education program Adult Treatment Panel III reports that plant sterols are part of the maximal dietary therapy for reducing cholesterol - University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center authorities are wondering why physicians aren't using this information

Use of plant sterols and also stanols should be a key element of maximal therapy for reducing total and LDL-cholesterol. This principle was recognized by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) and has been amply confirmed by human studies. Since the introduction of statin drugs, dietary therapy for reducing LDL cholesterol levels has received less attention. The time has come to reassert the importance of maximal dietary therapy for the treatment of elevated LDL-cholesterol and for lifetime prevention of coronary heart disease. This strong policy statement is from scientists at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and is published in the July 2005 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. Note; The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health launched the NCEP initially in late 1985. It is continuously updated. The goal of this program is to reduce illness and death from coronary heart disease by reducing high blood cholesterol in Americans.

Just some of the prestigious members of the NCEP include:

American Academy of Family physicians
American College of Cardiology
American College of Nutrition
American Diabetes Association
American heart Association
American Medical Association
American Nurses Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Red Cross
Association of Black Cardiologists
Center for Disease Control
Department of Agriculture
Department of Defense
National Cancer Institute
Department of Veterans Affairs

Plant Sterols reduce LDL-cholesterol in both diabetics and non-diabetics

Fifteen non-diabetics and 14 type 2 diabetics were placed on a controlled diet and then given 1.8 grams a day or placebo in a randomized fashion for 21 days. They then took a 28 day break from the supplementation and at that point were crossed over either to placebo or plant sterols, which ever one they had not taken in the first part of the study. The plant sterols decreased LDL-cholesterol by 15.1% in diabetics and by 26.8% in non-diabetics. The study is published in the June 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Analysis of 52 studies: both Policosanol and Plant Sterols lower cholesterol

Researchers at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Purdue University, analyzed 52 similar studies that included 4,596 individuals to compare the effectiveness and safety of both Policosanol and plant sterols. The studies ran between 1967 to 2003. Plant sterols reduced LDL-cholesterol by 11% in 23 eligible studies. Policosanol reduced LDL-cholesterol by 24% in 29 eligible studies. Policosanol also lowered triglycerides and raised beneficial HDL. All nutrients tested were both extremely safe and very effective for lowering cholesterol. The study is published in the February 2005 issue of the journal Pharmacotherapy.

Low Saturated Fat Diet with Soy Foods and Sterols As Good as Same Diet with Statin Drug

34 patients with high cholesterol were placed on three different 1-month treatments for cholesterol in random order. They ate a very low saturated fat diet, or the same diet with a statin drug (lovastatin 20mg a day), or the same diet with the addition of the following - soy foods, almonds, fiber (oats, barley, Psyllium), the vegetables okra and eggplant, and high concentrations of plant sterols. Fasting blood samples were taken right before the start of the diet, at two weeks, and at four weeks.
Results: On the diet alone the LDL-cholesterol dropped 8.5%, on the diet plus statin drug it dropped 33.3%, and on the diet plus soy-sterol-fiber it dropped 29.6% on average. However 26% of the patients achieved their lowest LDL on the soy-sterol-fiber plus diet and not on the statin plus diet. The diet with soy and sterols wasn't significantly different from statins in its ability to lower LDL-cholesterol. This is the first study to compare diet with statin vs. diet with soy-sterols-fiber nose to nose. The study is published in the February 2005 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Policosanol Improves the Cholesterol and Raises the HDL of Older People with High Blood Pressure

Policosanol is a cholesterol lowering nutrient that is safe and well tolerated even in people who use many different prescription drugs. In fact, Policosanol lacks significant adverse effects including a lack of drug to drug interactions.
205 older patients with high cholesterol who were taking Beta-Blocking drugs for high blood pressure were randomly placed on either Policosanol at 5mg a day for 3 years or placebo. After one year Policosanol significantly reduced LDL-cholesterol by about 21%, lowered total cholesterol by over 19% and decreased triglycerides by almost 26% versus placebo. HDL-cholesterol was improved by 4.1% versus placebo. At the end of three years Policosanol had decreased LDL-cholesterol by over 34%, decreased total cholesterol by over 23%, decreased triglycerides by over 21%, and improved HDL by over 12%.

Policosanol seemed to decrease the risk of suffering a serious vascular event. Only 3% of the Policosanol patients had a serious event while 14% of the placebo group had a serious event. The blood pressure of patients on Policosanol and Beta-Blockers had improved compared to the blood pressure of patients on Beta-Blockers and placebo. The study appears in the November-December 2004 issue of the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Research.