/3-Sitosterol is one of several phytosterols that are widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom. It is common in vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits and is one of the main sterols in fungi and algae (6). (i-Sitosterol may be obtained from wheat and rye germ oils, cottonseed, and other seed oils, but it is obtained mainly as a by-product in the processing of soybean oil and tall oil. The average Western diet provides 250-350 mg of /3-sitosterol daily (7).
)3-Sitosterol, which chemically resembles cholesterol, inhibits the absorption of cholesterol. /3-Sitosterol alone or combined with other phytosterols has been shown to reduce the plasma total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in human subjects (8). It is also able to relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is used in herbal remedies indicated for the treatment of this ailment (9). /3-Sitosterol and its saturated derivative, j3-sitostanol, are used as cholesterol-lowering agents in different kinds of functional foods.
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