Plant sterols are naturally occurring plant cells that help stop the absorption of bad cholesterol in the human body. However, it's often difficult to ingest a healthy dose of plant sterols from some of the foods that we normally eat. Researchers suggest that in order to lower harmful cholesterol levels you should consume one to two grams of plant sterols on a daily basis. However, according to MedTV's website, most people in western countries eat less than 500 mg per day, so some manufacturers have started to fortify various foods with plant sterol/stanol supplements.
Spreads and Salad Dressing
Manufacturers fortify foods such as margarine, spreads and salad dressings as a way to get more beneficial sterols into high-cholesterol diets. By employing new and unique processes, scientists can remove plant components from vegetable oils and change the make-up to fortify these foods. For example, according to the Cleveland Clinic, Promise Activ spread contains 1 gram of plant sterol/stanol per 1 tbsp serving.
Breads and Cereals
Whole grains are a great source of fibre, but they also contain plant sterols. Brown rice, bran, wheat germ and rice and oat bran are some of the most common grains that are naturally rich in plant sterols. However, some breads and cereals are also fortified with sterols/stanols to further add to diets that require lower cholesterol levels. For example, Oroweat Whole Grain and Oat bread contains about 0.8 grams of plant sterols/stanols in a three-slice serving.
Drinks such as rice and soy milk, as well as orange juice, are also now fortified with plant sterols/stanols and are available in the US. Silk Heart Health Vanilla Soymilk contains about 0.65 grams in a serving.
For the Sweet Tooth
Some dessert products such as VitaMuffin VitaTops Pomegranate and VitaBrownie Dark Chocolate are fortified with about 0.4 grams of sterols/stanols per serving.