What is Beta-Sitosterol?Beta-sitosterol is a phytosterols or plant sterol. The structure of beta-sitosterol is similar to that of cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol differs from cholesterol by the presence of an extra ethyl group.
DistributionThere are many plant sources of beta-sitosterol, but the most important are wheat germ, rice bran, flax seeds, peanuts, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and corn oil. Muli and co-workers showed that a plant-based diet, rich in fibre, soy and flax seed, can increase serum levels of beta-sitosterol.
Health Benefits of Beta-SitosterolBeta-sitosterol is mainly known and used for its cholesterol lowering property. But studies have shown that the phytochemical may have other health benefits: easing symptoms of benign prostatic enlargement, reducing risk of cancer and prevention of oxidative damage through its antioxidant activity.
Epidemiological and experimental studies have suggested a protective role of beta-sitosterol in the development of some types of cancer such as breast, colon and prostate cancer. In-vivo studies have shown that the phytochemical inhibited proliferation and induce apoptosis in human solid tumors such as colon and breast cancers. The studies about the protective effect of beta-sitosterol on breast cancer only involved in-vitro experiments using cultured breast cancer cells. These studies clearly show that the phytochemicals kills breast cancer cells and is not toxic to normal cell. Clinical studies linking beta-sitosterol and breast cancer are still missing but some scientists suggest that it may improve the efficiency of tamoxifen, a drug often used to treat breast cancer.
Beta-sitosterol is an antioxidant able to reduce DNA damage, reduce the level of free radical in our cells and to increase the level of typical antioxidant enzymes.
Regular intake of beta-sitosterol may reduce blood cholesterol levels by directly inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol also prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis.
Clinical studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of beta-sitosterol in patients with prostate enlargement. The phytochemical decreases post-void residual urinary volume and increases urinary flow rate in these patients.
Synonyms(3beta)-stigmast-5-en-3-ol, 22:23-dihydrostigmasterol, alpha-dihydrofucosterol, cinchol, cupreol, rhamnol, quebrachol and sitosterin.