Food sources of plant sterols in the EPIC Norfolk population

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To investigate the intake of plant sterols and identify major dietary sources of plant sterols in the British diet.


A total of 24 798 men and women recruited during 1993-1997, participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk).


A database of the plant sterol (campesterol, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campestanol and β-sitostanol) content in foods, based on gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) analyses, was linked to nutritional intake data from food frequency questionnaires in the EPIC-Norfolk population.


The mean (s.d.) intake of total plant sterols was 300 (108) mg/d for men and 293 (100) mg/d for women. Bread and other cereals, vegetables and added fats were the three major food sources of plant sterols representing 18.6 (8.9), 18.4 (8.5) and 17.3 (10.4)% of the total plant sterol intake respectively. Women had a higher plant sterol density than men (36.4 vs 32.8 mg/1000 kJ, P<0.001) and in relation to energy intake higher intakes of plant sterols from vegetables, bread and other cereals, added fats, fruits and mixed dishes (all P<0.001), whilst men had higher intakes of plant sterols from cakes, scones and chocolate, potatoes (all P<0.001) and other foods (P<0.01).


The intake of plant sterols in UK, mainly from bread, cereals, fats and vegetables, is much higher than previously reported but comparable to recent European studies.

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