Nonesterified Phytosterols Dissolved and Recrystallized in Oil Reduce Plasma Cholesterol in Gerbils and Humans

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Abstract

When free phytosterols are adequately heated and then cooled in fat, they recrystallize and are rendered bioavailable for blocking cholesterol absorption. To extend the application of phytosterols to fried foods, the activity of these modified crystals was assessed in 2 experiments with 26 male gerbils fed purified diets containing 0.15 g/100 g cholesterol with or without 0.75 g/100 g free phytosterols. The heat-modified soybean sterols were added directly to the diet (Expt. 1) or as phytosterol-enriched potato chips (Expt. 2). In the gerbil experiments, only the diet containing phytosterols significantly reduced plasma cholesterol (35-48%) and the total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio (40%), as well as hepatic cholesterol esters (80%). In a subsequent human study, subjects (n = 7) consumed two 28-g servings of tortilla chips fried in oil with or without phytosterols that provided 0 or 1.5 g/d for 4-wk periods in a crossover design (Expt. 3). During consumption of the phytosterolenriched chips, significant reductions in plasma cholesterol (10%) and LDL cholesterol (15%) were achieved without affecting HDL-C. This novel means of delivering free phytosterols proved to be both functionally efficient and effective. J. Nutr. 134: 1395-1399, 2004.

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