I've read a few posts on this board where some claim that plant stanols and sterols *only* affect dietary cholesterol and *not* liver-produced cholesterol. This is *not* true. Whether the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver or comes from a dietary source, plant stanols and sterols don't know the difference as they affect blood cholesterol levels regardless of the source. Plant stanols and sterols do not just focus on the cholesterol produced by the liver, but on any cholesterol in your blood.
Therefore, it's safe to conclude, in my opinion, that, even though you are limiting your dierary cholesterol intake, it's still safe to supplement your diet with plant sterols and stanols for the purpose of reducing your blood cholesterol levels.
I've based my opinion on an article by the American Heart Association Science Advisory. It can be located by going to the circ.ahajournals.org website and looking for an article titled "Stanol/Sterol Ester–Containing Foods and Blood Cholesterol Levels" (Circulation. 2001;103:1177.)
So, don't stop taking plant stanols and strerols just because you think it won't help due to your limited cholesterol intake diet - it still helps!
I thought I'd explain how I came to this realization:
A two-phase system:
1) Plant sterols and stanols help to reduce LDL cholesterol by competing with cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract. The body tend to absorb more of the stanols and sterols and, therefore, limit the amount of dietary cholesterol absorbed.
2) Now, that takes care of the dietary cholesterol intake, but what about cholesterol already in your blood? What about the cholesterol produced by your liver? Your liver needs cholesterol in order to produce bile acids. If you have very limited cholesterol intake through diet then you're forcing the liver to produce it on its own. The less cholesterol you eat, the more your liver will produce. If your liver thinks that less cholesterol is being absorbed, it will produce more of it for you. That's the problem. However, taking plant stanols and streols fills this void. Plant stanols and streols are similar enough to cholesterol that the body is "tricked" into thinking it's getting cholesterol and the liver therefore produces less of it itself. This is how plant sterols and stanols can have an effect on your cholesterol levels even if you are consuming a lot less dietary cholesterol - by making the liver "believe" there's enough dietary cholesterol coming in!
Has anyone had a reaction to Benecol, the margarine with plant stanols? I thought it would be a good alternative for my husband who can't take statins, but he started itching. The itchy feeling was on the area of his leg that is still sore. Is that possible or do I need to be on the Paranoia Board?
I take it in pill form, but have only done so with meals in which I consume a high amount of dietary cholesterol, usually eggs or shrimp. I've had no side effects from it that way, but have never tried it in one of the margarines. I don't eat enough margarine to get much effect that way.
If it is true that plant sterols help even if you aren't consuming dietary cholesterol, maybe I should try taking the pills more often and see what happens. Problem is, I've already made a couple of other changes since my last blood test, and there would be no way to tell what might have caused a change. Too bad it is so expensive to get a blood test all the time.
Individuals taking statin drugs may benefit from using stanols/sterols as well.
According to one study, if you are on statins and start taking sterol ester margarine as well, your cholesterol will improve to the same extent as if you doubled the statin dose. (Simons L. Additive effect of plant sterol-ester margarine and cerivastatin in lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in primary hypercholesterolemia. Am J Cardiol. 2002;90:737.)
Stanols or sterols also appear to enhance the effects of cholesterol-lowering diets.
Hubble, here goes again, I tried to post to you last night but seems they were having trouble and posts wouldn't go through. Interesting article you posted and I believe that it works because like I posted elsewhere, my friend used the Minute Maid Heart Wise orange juice and the Smart Balance margarine and she was able to cut her Lipitor dose in half. She buys the "Light" verson of the margarine at only 45 calories per Tbls. I have started using the same products and hope for good results even though I am no longer on a statin. Lenin has a new post about Yoplait Healthy Heart yogurt which has sterols also. Seems that there may be a lot of that coming on the market, will be interesting to see what results we read about.
I also found that I can buy my "Now" brand flush-free niacin in 500mg in a one pill dose which will make it easier to take 2 pills instead of 4. I took your example and am taking it before bedtime and I hope this niacin works because I have no reactions to it at all. The deal I got was 90 pills for a little over $10.00. from a dealer here in Mn.
Hubble I hope your mother is doing okay, you both have been in my prayers. I lost my mom this last May and I miss her terrible. Let us know how she is doing.
My mom is still in ICU, but she is slowly improving. They took her off the aortic-balloon pump, so her heart is pumping on it's own now. She's still on a breathing tube, and they are intentionally keeping her unconscious so that her heart will be under less stress and can heal faster. They're starting to wean her off most of the meds she's been on the past 3 days...
I'm hoping that tomorrow or Saturday they will wake her..
As soon as she starts complaining, I'll know she's out of danger.
Thanks for your concerns.
Last edited by HubbleRules; 06-16-2005 at 05:55 PM.
She is much improved over the past 48 hours and should be leaving intensive care tomorrow. She is off the aortic balloon pump, has had the breathing tube removed, and is weaned off most of the drugs they've had her on the past 5 days.
She is fully conscious now and even complaining a little!!!!
She is on a liquid diet today, but they will start her on solid food tomorrow. They even got her on her feet and she walked about 20 paces today... The doctor's are amazed at her recovery - we came very close to losing her Tuesday and Wednesday...
She is past the danger point now - and will begin cardiac rehab in a few days... I think in 2 months, she'll be considerably stronger than she was before the bypass surgery...
Thanks for all your concerns and prayers - I'm sure someone up above was listening...
I'm glad to hear that your mother is now out of danger and doing much better. Yes, sometimes complaining can be a hopeful sign that things are returning to normal . You want to hear some real complaining? Just wait until she starts eating some of that lousy hospital food ! Then for sure she'll be begging to get out of there and go home. Anyway, I hope that she continues to do well and makes a full recovery.
"Men and nations will act rationally when all other possibilities have been exhausted."
Is there a difference between stanols and sterols? Benecol has .85 grams of plant stanol esters. Take Control has 1.7 grams of plant sterol esters. Benecol seems to make my husband itch while Take Control does not.
Both sterols and stanols are plant versions of cholesterol with the addition of a methy or an ethyl group rendering them inabsorbable in the gut. The difference is that the stanols are saturated and the sterols are not.
Both have the approximate same effect gram for gram usually maxing out at a 10-20% reduction in LDL. Increasing the dose a lot has no additional effect.
I think you MAY have the two products reversed. I could easily be wrong but I seem to remember the BENECOL as the stronger of the two.
Take Control back label: Enjoy twice a day with meals...contains 1.7g plant sterol esters per serving (one tablespoon, according to label)...daily intake should be 1.3g or more.
Benecol back label: ...a serving (one tablespoon) of Benecol contains 0.85g of plant stanol esters...Directions: Use at least two servings of spread per day with your meals...For best results use with other Benecol products to get the 3.4g of plant stanol esters per day (4 Benecol servings) recommended by National Cholesterol ducation Guidelines.
It would seem that Take Control is more potent, assuming stanol and sterols are equal enities, but I don't claim to be a math major. I still can't figure out why stanols seem to cause itching while sterols do not.
I will reread that Take Control label when next in the market...I am almost certain they obfuscate and are really saying that it takes 2 Tbsp. to equal the serving you need.
Reading both without a pencil (or a lawyer) had my head swimming because both seemed to be HIDING as much as they are SAYING...almost to purposefully deceive. I'll be back after my recheck.
Not a clue as to why the stanols would cause itching other than the possibility that their vegetable sources were different and there is an allergy to one of the vegetable foods that is involved. But that's a LONG shot.
Oh I found a DELICIOUS fact for those willing and able to "get it wholesale"
Add to that the cost of the products themselves. The food manufacturer may spend between $15 and $20 a kilo for sterol esters, depending on the raw material they choose and the process required to recover the product.
A kilo being 1000 grams, that's a two-year supply at 1.5 grams a day for under $20 bucks.
Hmmm, food for thought?
Yes, it is rather confusing. I will need to brush up on my decimals. One label says to get at least 1.3g of sterols per day while the other says to get 3.4g of stanols. The Yoplait Heart Healthy yogurt says the entire carton contains .4g of sterols. If you take two tablespoons of Take Control at 1.7g each your daily total will be the magic number recommended by Benecol. I guess I need to find out if all sterols and stanols are equal. In the meantime, if you want to split the cost of a kilo, I am there.