Beta-sitosterol is a phytosterol, which is also known as a plant sterol ester. It can be found in many vegetables and fruits. The most important dietary sources of beta-sitosterol are, black cumin seeds, wheat germ, rice bran, saw palmetto, pumpkin seeds, avocado, soybeans, flaxseed, corn oil, and wolf berries. Its chemical structure closely resembles that of cholesterol, and so, it can prevent the absorption of cholesterol by competing with the latter for getting absorbed in the intestine. This is the reason why it is widely used for lowering the level of cholesterol in the body.
It is a natural plant sterol that is widely known for its cholesterol-lowering effect. It prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine or the digestive tract. As it has a similar chemical structure like cholesterol, it competes with cholesterol to get absorbed in the intestine. So, it helps reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestine.
This plant sterol is particularly helpful in lowering the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, and preventing its oxidation. It can reduce the level of both total and LDL cholesterol in the body, which makes it an effective product for treating atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the narrowing of the arteries due to the deposition of fat and cholesterol inside the arterial wall. Beta-sitosterol can prevent the development of this condition.
Apart from lowering the level of cholesterol, it can help prevent prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) due to its effect on the male hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. Some other conditions in which this product can provide relief are, prostatic carcinoma, hair loss, and breast cancer. Several studies have pointed out that this plant sterol has anticancer and antioxidant properties. Due to its antioxidant properties, it can neutralize the free radicals, and prevent them from oxidizing and damaging the body cells and tissues.
Being a natural plant sterol, it does not have many side effects. It can produce some mild discomforts or side effects in certain individuals, but serious side effects are rare. Some of the common side effects that can be experienced while using this product are, gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and indigestion or heartburn. A few instances of erectile dysfunction in men have also been reported due to the intake of beta-sitosterol. This may be due to the fact that this natural sterol can affect the level of male hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
Rarely, some serious side effects can be experienced by certain individuals after ingesting this plant sterol. Such serious side effects can be caused by a severe allergic reaction to the product, which can manifest in skin rash, itching, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, and swelling of the mouth, lips, and the throat. Such side effects call for immediate medical attention and discontinuation of beta-sitosterol. However, these side effects are experienced by only a small percentage of people using this product. Most of the individuals can tolerate this natural product without experiencing any major side effect.
Like any other medicine and supplementation, this plant sterol can produce some mild side effects, especially if it is not taken with adequate care. But it usually does not produce major side effects. An overdose of any medicine is likely to produce some adverse effects on the body. Therefore, it is very important to consult your physician or health care provider before using any medicine or supplementation. Finally, be sure to inform your health care provider immediately, if you experience any side effect while using this plant sterol.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.