Phytosterols are a group of naturally occurring substances (including plant sterols and stanols) that can be found largely in plant cell membranes.
It is well-documented that phytosterols can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels, particularly the 'bad' cholesterols. As phytosterols have similar chemical structures to the body's cholesterols, they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system when consumed. This helps block cholesterol absorption, and blood cholesterol levels are lowered as a result. It was also proposed that phytosterols facilitate the excretion of biliary cholesterol in the faeces.
Phytosterols can be found largely in plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and vegetable oils. They are also aften added into margarine and dairy products.