What are Phytosterols?

(KEYWORDS: what are phytosterols, cholesterol lowering plant phytosterols, beta sitosterol, functional foods )

These are very important plant fats, compounds with a structure similar to that of cholesterol. They control the movement of fluids in plant membranes and are found in small quantities in every vegetable we eat.

Ordinary animal cholesterol + an extra ethyl group which is ringed.

Don't get put off by this structure. This isn't a lesson in organic chemistry but it may be interesting to some. Notice that cholesterol and beta sitosterol have very similar strucures.

I'm a chemistry major; hence odd references to molecular structures throughout this chiropractic help site. Chemistry is important, but I think you'll agree I do try to keep it simple.

Their similarity to cholesterol means that these phytosterols compete with the intestinal absorption of ordinary animal cholesterol. Eating larger quantities of plant phytosterols increases the fecal excretion of animal origin cholesterol that we have consumed in say dairy products.

What's particularly interesting is that food scientists have repeatedly confirmed that phytosterols reduce the unfriendly low density lipoprotein cholesterol whilst not affect the friendly high density cholesterol; blood levels of the latter should be as high as possible. High density cholesterol helps keep blood vessels walls free of atherosclerosis. Everyone with a cholesterol problem should know about phytosterols.

The American national cholesterol education program recommends phytosterol enriched foods as part of their prevention of cardiovascular disease program.

This is where naturopathic and medical doctors find themselves poles apart. The former say we should be eating more foods that are rich in phytosterols. Medicine says we should enrich food artificially with phytosterols and take drugs to lower cholesterol; at a great profit to the drug companies. If you know what phytosterols are, you can save yourself a mint simply by including them regularly in your diet.

There are many studies proving conclusively that the phytosterol compounds will reduce serum low density and total cholesterol and, what's more, in a short time.

A study at McGill University found that after only 10 days, with no change of diet, the addition of beta sitosterol had a significant effect on low density cholesterol in the blood. They concluded that these findings suggest that a significant lowering of low density and total cholesterol in the blood plasma can be achieved by a modest dietary intake of the phytosterols in a food such as soybeans.

Personally, I would rather enjoy the phytosterols in avocado to soybeans which are not my favourite.  In any case avos have even more phytosterols than soybeans, and chickpeas, almonds and extra virgin olive oil are also particularly rich according to webMD.  They recommend aiming for 2000 mg per day, but the average American diet has less than a quarter of that.


Phytosterols are considered to be functional foods, meaning that they have health promoting and disease preventing properties.

They are not only improve the health of blood vessels but there are numerous studies indicating their anti cancer; particularly of the breast, prostate and colon cancer and anti oxidant properties.

The phytosterol beta sitosterol and the prostate gland are often mentioned in the same sentence. 

Conditions of the prostate gland like prostatitis which is now recognised very frequently to be a non infective condition, benign prostate hypertrophy which is really just an non cancerous enlarged prostate gland, and prostate cancer which is the leading malignant and fatal cancer of men are both common in older men; very common, and very nasty.

The maximum urinary flow rate at which men can pee is reduced by prostate enlargement.

Squaws wouldn't understand perhaps since they tend to have the exact opposite problem; a leaking bladder is a known side effect of having taken post menopausal hormone replacement therapy. In brave talk, men have an air lock. It's difficult to initiate urination, and the stream is weak and slow. It takes for ever to have a sweet pee.

Perhaps worse, braves are unable to empty their bladders completely. The post void residual volume of urine is increased, meaning they have to pee more often, and often have to get up several times at night. Disturbed sleep leads to other problems, not least of which is short term memory loss. Residual urine leads to bladder infections.

Non bacterial prostatitis, also called chronic pain pelvic syndrome, doesn't respond to antibiotics. It's a nasty condition causing men to urinate more frequently, with urgency as they are unable to empty the bladder. In short difficult, painful, frequent urination.

It responds best perhaps to a prostate massage, a non painful but awkward and embarrassing process by which your doctor, and some chiropractors, massage the prostate, via the anus, for about two minutes. For my money, that's I would do, rather than have a prostate operation which often leads to impotence. A two minute embarrassment once a month as compared to the risk of permanent impotence? For me it's a no brainer.

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Google has gone through an enormous shakeup in the last year, giving webmasters much grief.

Meantime, use that search function to find more information about subject material mentioned on the page where links have probably been removed.  There are over 360 pages at chiropractic help; it's become a veritable encyclopedia dedicated to better health.

Better still and preferably before the symptoms start, this is the day to begin making sure you are eating adequate quantities of phytosterols.

However, in the event that you have already started with chronic prostate problems, there is very interesting research that  beta sitosterol, a common phytosterol, has a very significant effect on the prostate gland.

A typical avocado weighing about 170 grams would contain roughly 130 milligrams of beta sitosterol according to Duester writing in the journal of the American dietetic association.

In a powerful randomised, double blind, placebo controlled research project, the gold standard of research, men gained dramatic relief within six weeks from taking 130 mg of beta sitosterol daily. Not only did their symptoms decrease, but the residual urine in the bladder as determined by ultrasound scans and the flow rate improved dramatically.

Eating natural phytosterols as in avocados has no side effects, however there are concerns about in pill form there is also inhibition of the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin E. It's a completely natural substance that you should be eating every day. They are God's gift to the prostate!

A person enjoying plenty of fruits and salads might eat nearly 1000 mg of phytosterols, of which a large portion is beta sitosterol per day, but the meat and potatoes man might have almost none.

Research concluding that BETA SITOSTEROL is an effective treatment for BPH:

More research: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1464-410X.1997. t01-1-00362.x/full


"There were noteworthy improvements when compared with placebo in those treated for benign prostatic hypertrophy with beta sitosterol; the  quality of life index especially was much improved. There were also significant improvements in the maximum urinary flow rate, and a decrease in the post voidal residue in favour of beta sitosterol."


"These results show that phytosterols and in particular beta sitosterol are effective in the treatment of a benign enlarged protstate."


A proprietary gel called MELLADERM, which contains beta-sitosterol and honey has dramatic effects on varicose ulcers. VARICOSE VEINS IN LEGS ...

What are phytosterols? Sesame seeds

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports the amounts of phytosterols present in nuts and seeds.

Sesame seeds have the highest total phytosterol content (~ 400 mg per 100 grams), sunflower seeds (280 mg/100 g), pumpkin seeds (265 mg/100 g).

The main problem with sesame seeds is that you have to "fletcherise" to get the get the nutritional value from them. Chew each mouthful 32 times! The best alternative is to grind them in a cheap coffee grinder and make them into Tahini, a sort of sesame "peanut butter", only nicer,  and less spoiled with the addition of sugar and hydrogenated oils.

Tahini is widely used in the Middle East in various foods such as hummus. Rich in phytosterols. What is SESAME TAHINI ...?


Various seed oils such as sunflower, rapeseed (Canola) and corn oil are rich in phytosterols, and are in fact one of the best sources. Phytosterol sitosterol (beta) is one of the most abundant of these cholesterol-lowering plant phytosterols.

This phytosterol complex is particularly heat labile - destructable.

Extraction of these seed oils involves multiple chemical extractions, heating, refining, degumming and bleaching which results in a loss of 10-70% (Kochhar, 1983; Phillips et al., 2002) of the phytosterol in comparison with their crude oils, or just enjoying the freshly ground seeds. A simple coffee grinder in every kitchen for grinding seeds and spices is a must.

Furthermore, Piironenen et al., 2000 found that the refining regimen causes significant oxidation and other intermolecular transformations of phytosterols.

Try and find cold pressed oils.


Farquhar et al. found that artificially adding a beta-sitosterol extract made food products unpalatable and unmarketable. Its chemical properties make it "difficult and inefficient" as a food additive. For more details about Biocatalysis and biomolecular engineering ...

http://books.google.co.za/books?id=I_fpl_9de9IC&pg=PA144&dq= B-sitosterol&hl=en&ei=Kcp9TYnwJoSHhQeGw7j5Bg&sa=X&oi=book_re sult&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEEQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=B-sitost


It really shouldn't be necessary for us to take extra phytosterols. If we eat them every day, we are far less likely to get raised cholesterol, prostate hyperplasia, haemorrhoids, varicose ulcers and many cancers.

They are found in all vegetables, salads, seeds and cold pressed oils. Fruit oils, from the olive and avocado too are rich in beta-sitosterol - up to 2%.


Here's the deal. Why wait until you get cancer or prostate problems? PROSTATE GLAND HEALTH is a vital subject for every male, for every woman too if loss of her male's libido is important to her!

Why wait for varicose veins ulcers? Now is time to increase your cancer and cholesterol lowering plant phytosterols, and to think about a natural cure for varicose veins. Now is the time, TODAY, to start, for example by looking through our HEALTHY LIVING TIPS ...

Prevention is better than a cure, eh! If you enjoy cooking, even if you don't, then you might dip into these EASY SOUP RECIPES. They are loaded with phytosterol sitosterol and its 250 first cousins, all there waiting for you, in the prevention of cancer and other diseases. They are also full of soluble fibre, the good stuff that prevents constipation, surely one of the greatest evils that besets the large bowel. A friend confided in me: having an operation for piles is like having a roll of barbed-wire stuck up your rear-end.

So, now you know what are phytosterols ...

A phytosterol lunch

Did you know that you can literally make your own authentic hummus recipe in only four minutes? Well, that's my record. I make 500ml of hummus twice a week. Chickpeas and sesame, the chief ingredients of hummus make this into a phytosterol lunch! This my lunch today...

Whole wheat incidently is listed amongst those foods containing the greatest amount of phytosterol. Baking your own low GI bread is a cinch if you have a bread maker.

So, hummus made with chickpeas, olive oil and sesame paste, fresh whole wheat bread and avocado, salads... more than enough phytosterols to earn the butter on your bread.


The key to healthy vegetables and fruit from the garden is humus, the break down product of your garden cuttings and clippings, plus all the vegetable waste like apple cores, eggs shells and potato peels from your kitchen. It's really not difficult, though turning the compost pile takes a bit of muscle work. Beats going to the gym. STARTING A COMPOST PILE ...

Hummus acts a wonderful phytogen, or flavour enhancer, to your meal. It makes an perhaps otherwise chewy salad meal unpalatable. In spring you may have avocados in abundance, but in the autumn there is an abundance of coloured salads from the organic garden. Can you count 10 coloured foods, all rich in phytosterols?

You may say, I don't possibly have the time to grow all these vegetables. True, I'm semi retired, but I also find time to treat half a dozen patients in need of chiropractic help most days, go gliding on Saturdays, trout fishing this weekend, and I've started my next book in The Family Affair series. The space created for gardening is made by turning the television OFF! Not that I don't watch some sport and the odd film.

That's cheese and pickled jalapenos on our low GI bread on the left. A rich, very filling and non fattening meal. Only the butter on the bread is slightly questionable; I won't eat margarine, but I could have used olive oil on the bread, it's true. When you eat as many foods that lower cholesterol that we enjoy, then you certainly don't have to fuss with statins and worry about raised cholesterol.

Two kinds of lettuce, young spinach, sweet basil, fresh corn on the cob, picked only half an hour ago, radishes, pepperdews, tomatoes without pesticides, hummus with parsley and mint.

As one surgeon put it, rather neatly, if we got back to eating the foods that our grandmothers prepared, rather than what our mothers taught us to eat, we wouldn't have those heart problems.

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr B  came initially for a painful and stiff neck and then asked whether chiropractic could help the cold numb feeling running down the side of his thigh for six months. Meralgia paresthetica is a double crush syndrome with the nerve affected in the back and groin. He's 80% improved after five treatments.

2. Mrs C has a long history of severe, disabling migraine headaches since having her wisdom teeth removed. She clenches her teeth at night. After six treatments she has no migraines but some jaw joint discomfort remains; a bite plate is in the offing.

3. Mrs U has the trophy for the worst back this year. After major surgery with plates and screws two years later she still had paresis in the lower leg and severe disabling back pain. She's doing far better than expected, in no little part due to a lift in her shoe for a very short leg.

4. Mr V is 86 years old and hurt his back helping his wife into the car. Just one treatment of the sacroiliac joint and he's eighty percent better. It's not always like that.

5. Mr W lay on his back knocking down a pillar. Turning his head causes severe vertigo. He needs the Epley exercises, not pills, research shows. Update, he's fine.

6. Mrs X, a young mother has severe lower back pain, with numbness down the posterior thigh, calf and side of her foot. It started after a long drive in the car. After six treatments she is 60 percent better, but it's slow and is going to take the full 6 weeks to heal.

And now a setback, after lifting her child she now has leg pain. It's going to the be difficult.

7. This lady is a 70 year old woman, is on maintenance care for a nasty lumbar stenosis despite having to do everything at home. Her husband has a hospital acquired infection after a total shoulder replacement. After four operations he is incapacitated.

8. She is an 78 year old woman, is doing remarkably well with a bad sciatica. But over 200 pounds she is not losing weight; in fact, gaining despite my suggestions. She's high risk for a stroke. I have referred her to a dietician to crack the whip.

9. This man is a 73 year old engineer, still working, is doing fine after a long episode of lower back pain. Some pain on the side of the hip remains after five treatments. I reassured him it's not hip arthritis.

10. A 64 year old woman has had scheuermanns disease; it's left her with a spinal kyphosis and chronic middorsal pain. She responds well to chiropractic treatment provides she come every six weeks or so for maintenance treatment.

11. Mr C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mrs D, a middle aged woman with hip pain of one year duration, despite other treatment. Xrays reveal an impingement syndrome and early hip arthritis. There's much to be done.

13. Both Mrs E and I can't believe how much better her lower back and leg pain are. Surgery for a scoliosis and spondylolysthesis three years ago helped greatly for one year. But then her leg went lame and weak. He was responded extremely well despite all expectations.

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.