This article reviews developments related to the use of plant sterols and stanols as cholesterol-lowering ingredients in foods and nutraceuticals preparations. Plant sterols and stanols are extracted from the deodorizer distillates of vegetable oil refining and from tall oil, a by-product of paper pulping industry. Plant sterols/stanols inhibit cholesterol absorption possibly by competitively inhibiting its incorporation into the mixed micelles in the small intestine although other mechanisms can not be excluded. Daily consumption of 1-2 grams of plant sterols or stanols was shown to cause 10- 20% reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). Combinations of plant sterols/stanols with certain lipid-lowering ingredients were shown to potentate their cholesterol-lowering effects and, in some cases, add triacylglycerol-lowering effects. In this article, patents based information is also discussed.
Keywords: Plant sterols, plant stanols, cholesterol-lowering, health-promoting effects, functional foods