Plant chemicals called sterols might help to lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol according to a new study.
Plant sterols have been shown to block cholesterol's absorption, lower blood cholesterol beyond diet and they are minimally absorbed by the intestines.
The study had 29 participants, all the cases had high cholesterol, and 14 also had type 2 diabetes and were slightly overweight. Participants were 40-80 years old, averaging in their mid-50s. None exercised.
At the study's start blood cholesterol levels were measured. Next, the group was put on a low-fat diet, which included toast with margarine containing a plant sterol or a placebo powder. For 21 days, participants got one or the other spread on their morning toast.
Follow up blood tests showed drops in "bad" LDL cholesterol with the sterol mix. The diabetes patients had a greater reduction, but significant improvements were also seen in non-diabetic participants.
LDL cholesterol fell by more than a quarter (27%) for diabetic people who received the sterol spread. For those without diabetes, LDL dropped 15%. HDL ("good") cholesterol levels were not affected.
The results showed that plant sterols are [effective] in lowering LDL cholesterol in both diabetic and non-diabetic persons. The plant sterols also lowered levels of non-HDL cholesterol, which can also contribute to heart disease.