What Are Phytosterols & What Foods Can I Find It In?

3D-model of Phytosterols (src)

Phytosterols are plant-derived sterols that are similar in structure and function to cholesterol.

Because phytosterols are structurally similar to the body's cholesterol, when they are consumed they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system.

Table of Contents

Phytosterols Are Plant Sterols

Phytosterols are bioactive compounds found in foods of plant origin, which can be divided into plant sterols and plant stanols.(source )

Stanols are hydrogenated products of sterols.

Phytostanols are almost identical to phytosterols in structure, but are fully saturated.(source )

Phytosterols In The Body

Phytosterols are plant sterols structurally similar to cholesterol that act in the intestine to lower cholesterol absorption.(source )

All phytosterols in human blood and tissue are derived from the diet because, in contrast to cholesterol, humans cannot synthesize phytosterols. (source )

Benefits Of Phytosterols

Phytosterols have been widely promoted as health-enhancing food ingredients.

Its promoted, for instance, that they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or certain types of cancer.

While some studies suggest that phytosterols may have beneficial health effects, others suggest that they may not, and the evidence is inconclusive.

Examples Of Phytosterols

Uses Of Phytosterols

Phytosterols are used in the food industry as a natural substitute for cholesterol in animal feed.

It is used in the cosmetic industry as emulsifiers.

Phytosterols are also used in the pharmaceutical industry as cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Phytosterols In The Future

The demand for phytosterols is expected to increase in the future, because of its believed health benefits.

For instance, due to increasing concerns about cholesterol levels.

But also because of the development of new applications in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Foods You Can Find Phytosterols In

You find Phytosterols mostly in fats and oil, nut and seed, snack, and spices and herb products.

Lots of pistachio nuts
You can find phytosterols in pistachio nuts

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated top-ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most Phytosterols, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top-ranked list of foods that contain Phytosterols.

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

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Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.