Step One Foods have more than 1 gram of plant sterols per serving. What are they and why do we like them so much?
Plant sterols are compounds found only in plant-based foods and resemble the molecular structure of cholesterol. Unlike cholesterol, plant sterols are not easily absorbed by the body. But because they are similar in structure, plant sterols can block regular cholesterol absorption.
It turns out plant sterols also block bile cholesterol absorption, which can have an even more profound impact on our cholesterol.
Every time we eat, the liver and gallbladder release bile into the intestinal tract. Bile helps us to digest food, but it is also very rich in cholesterol. Because our systems are so efficient, any bile left over from the digestive process gets reabsorbed along with its cholesterol content.
Anything that interferes with bile re-absorption sends circulating cholesterol back to the liver to make more bile, and not into the blood stream, thus dropping the level of cholesterol in the blood stream.
This is why plant sterols are best consumed WITH food. Because if there is no food in the digestive system, there is no bile in the gut for the plant sterols to compete with.
Plant sterols are abundant in nuts and seeds, and high levels are also found in wheat germ. Step One Foods contains these ingredients and also adds natural plant sterols to meet the recommended levels for cholesterol reduction.