What are Plant Sterols?

  • Plant sterols are naturally found in the cell walls of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds in small amounts
  • Plant sterols have a similar structure, or shape, to cholesterol and can reduce your cholesterol levels by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed in your gut
  • Health Canada supports a health claim that 2 grams of plant sterols per day is beneficial in reducing cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol)
    • Research shows that 2 grams per day of plant sterols from supplements or fortified foods may lower LDL-cholesterol by 10-15%
    • Lowering LDL-cholesterol by 10% may reduce the risk of heart disease by 25%
  • Although plant sterols are found naturally in plant foods, you would have to eat 4kg of fruit to consume 2g of plant sterols! This reason is why supplements or fortified foods are recommended to lower cholesterol
  • Plant sterol supplements or fortified foods can be found at many local grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies

Are Plant Sterols Safe?

  • Yes! According to Health Canada:
    • 2 grams per day of plant sterols are recommended for cholesterol-lowering benefits for adults
      • Adults can safely consume up to 3g of plant sterols a day
    • Health Canada does not have a recommendation of plant sterols for health benefits in children, but they can safely consume up to 1g per day
    • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your healthcare provider before using plant sterol supplements
  • No negative health effects have been shown with the use of plant sterols
  • Current research also suggests it is safe to consume plant sterols while also using cholesterol medications
  • Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation

Where Can I Buy Plant Sterol Supplements or Fortified Foods?

  • As mentioned above, supplementation is necessary to reach the recommended 2g of plant sterols per day
    • Supplements commonly come in capsules, soft gels, and powders
  • Supplements for plant sterols are available in Canada without a prescription
    • Plant sterol supplements can be found in your local grocery store, pharmacy, and health food stores supplement section
    • Ask the store manager or pharmacist about availability and location in the store
  • Plant sterols can also be found added (fortified) to some foods
    • Health Canada allows foods to be fortified with plant sterols up to 1g per serving, such as foods like margarine, yogurt, and fruit juice, but these are not widely available in Canada.
    • Look on food packaging for nutrition information, including the label, nutrition facts table or the ingredient list for plant sterols, or check with the store manager.

How Should I Use Plant Sterol Supplements?

  • Remember: plant sterols can be found in plant foods, but you cannot consume the recommended 2g/day just by eating natural foods
    • Supplementation is an easy way to meet your goal of 2g per day
    • Plant sterol supplements come in powder, capsule, or soft gel form
  • Supplements can easily be added to your day-to-day eating
    • Plant sterol supplements should be taken with food (if you are using capsules) or added to food before serving (if you are using plant sterol powder)
      • It is best to take plant sterol supplements with your meals
  • The plant sterol dose per capsule or soft gel can vary based on the brand. Read the label carefully.
    • Depending on the supplements you may need to take 2-5 capsules to consume the recommended 2g plant sterols a day
      • Read the label to determine how many capsules will provide close to 2g/day
      • TIP: Take the supplements throughout the day with meals
    • Powder supplements can be easy to add to a meal after cooking as it is flavourless
  • Plant sterol supplements can also be purchased from online retailers
    • Carefully read the nutrition information for the number of capsules needed to consume the recommended 2g per day
    • Look for supplements that are 100% plant sterols and do not contain other nutrients unless directed or approved by your healthcare provider
  • If you have questions, speak with a dietitian or other healthcare professional for information before supplementation

There is no best way to consume plant sterols – whether it is supplementation through capsules or powder, or fortified foods that fit within dietary guidelines and the Portfolio Diet – pick your preference based on price, taste, or accessibility!

Examples of Plant Sterol Products

Here are some examples* of labels to see where you can find information on plant sterols:

Product TypeProduct
Name
Suggested Serving for Portfolio Diet/DayTotal Amount of Plant Sterols/Serving (grams)Approximate Price/serving 
[Cost/bottle] (CAD$)**
Where is it sold? **
Capsules
SupplementNow Foods, Beta-Sitosterol Plant Sterols4 softgels2 g$0.80/serving [$18.00/
bottle]
ca.iHerb.com
SupplementSwiss Natural Cholesterol™ With Vegapure® 4 softgels2.6 g$2.00/serving [$25.00/ bottle]Well.ca or Amazon.ca
Powder
SupplementNew Roots Herbal1 teaspoon2.4 g$0.48/serving [$16.00/
bottle]
Amazon.ca or Healthy Planet Store

*Other plant sterol supplements may be available that fall within the guidelines of the Portfolio Diet. It is important to read the label and remember that product ingredients can change.
**As of July 2021 in Canadian markets

A Quick Way to Enter Plant Sterols on the PortfolioDiet.app

If you consume 2g of plant sterols using capsules, you can quickly enter 5 Plant Sterol points in the app by tapping the Plant Sterol bars furthest to the right.

Disclaimer: Consult your dietitian, family doctor, or other health care provider prior to making any major dietary changes or starting a new supplement.

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