Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. The body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can stick to the walls of the arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can the arteries or even block them. High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age. There are usually no signs or symptoms that indicate high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. Chances of having high cholestesterol would include if family members have it, being overweight or eating a lot of fatty foods.
These compounds have several interchangeable names. They are called sterols and sterolins, sitosterol and sitosterolin, and beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterolin which can also be written as B-sitosterol and B-sitosterolin. Sterols and sterolins are fats that are found in most higher plants. These plant fats have chemical structures that are nearly identical to the animal fat known as cholesterol. It is interesting to note that sterols and sterolins exert their biological activity at relatively low concentrations.
A double-blind, randomized study sought to determine the effect of high-fiber rye bread enriched with plant sterols on cholesterol levels. Included in the trial were 68 participants who were randomized to receive a rye bread (9.3g/d fiber) with added plant sterols (2g/d) (active group) or without added plant sterols (control group).
In the second phase of the study, the amount of rye bread was doubled providing 18.6g/d fiber and in the active group with 4g/d plant sterols. The results revealed that after two weeks in the first phase of the trial, participants in the active group significantly reduced serum levels of LDL (8.1 percent) and total cholesterol (5.1 percent).
After the second phase, it was found that LDL and total cholesterol levels continued to decrease (LDL by 10.4 percent and total cholesterol by 6.5 percent). Rye bread alone did not decrease cholesterol in the control group. Overall, these findings suggest that rye bread may be a good way to deliver plant sterols into the intestine and seems to help reduce all lipid risk factors.1
1 Soderholm PP, Althan G, Koskela AH, et al. The effect of high-fiber rye bread enriched with nonesterified plant sterols on major serum lipids and apolipoproteins in normocholesterolemic individuals. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. Jan2011.