LDL Cholesterol: Foods fortified with sterols, stanols can lower cholesterol

Plant sterols and stanols, substances that can lower cholesterol, are now being added to foods ranging from granola bars to chocolate. The catch is that you need to eat about 2 grams worth of added sterols or stanols every day to put a dent in your cholesterol, reports the Harvard Heart Letter.

When eaten, sterols and stanols gum up the body's system for absorbing cholesterol from food. Since the liver needs cholesterol for digestion, it grabs LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream while leaving HDL cholesterol alone. Eating 2 grams per day can lower levels of LDL cholesterol by about 10%, which could translate into a 20% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

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