Phytosterols are natural compounds found only in plant-based food. They block the absorption of cholesterol within the intestine. Taking in plenty of phytosterols helps to lower cholesterol levels naturally.
Although you would think that phytosterols only affect absorption of food-based cholesterol, it turns out we have an internal cholesterol circulation that phytosterols can impact even more profoundly.
Every time we eat, the liver and gallbladder secrete bile into the intestinal tract. Bile is used to help digest food, and it is also very rich in cholesterol. Because we are very efficient animals, any bile not used up in the digestive process gets reabsorbed. So anything that can reduce bile reabsorption can cause more of the circulating cholesterol to head back to the liver to make more bile, thus dropping blood cholesterol levels. Since phytosterols can block bile cholesterol absorption, they help to lower cholesterol levels.
This is why phytosterols are best consumed WITH food. Because if there is no food in the digestive system, there is no bile in the gut for the phytosterols to block.To attain meaningful cholesterol lowering effects, consuming 2 grams of phytosterols per day is recommended. It is difficult to attain this intake even with a strict vegetarian diet, so Step One Foods adds natural phytosterols into its products to meet the recommended levels for cholesterol reduction