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Phytosterols: Perspectives in Human Nutrition and Clinical Therapy

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Abstract:

Phytosterols (PSs) are a group of plant derived steroid alcohols, with wide occurrence in vegetables and fruits. They are integral components of plant cell membranes, having stabilizing effects on phospholipids bilayer, just like cholesterol in animal cell membranes. Structural resemblance of PSs with cholesterol enables them to displace low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the human intestine. Protective effects of PSs against cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), colon and breast cancer developments have been widely documented. Several reports have been published on the potential dietary intake of common PSs, such as β-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol, and their safety concerns. Ability of PSs to reduce cholesterol levels and risks associated with heart problems has made them a class of favorite food supplements. Nowadays functional foods supplemented with PSs have become an alternative and healthy tool to lower LDL-cholesterol levels in a natural way. However, excessive use of PSs has been observed to develop premature coronary artery disease in phytosterolemic patients, high risk of atherosclerotic CVDs, myocardial infarction and even impaired endothelial functions. This manuscript will highlight the recent developments in PSs with particular focus on their role as dietary supplements and in treatment of various heart- and cholesterol-related ailments. Recently explored side effects of PSs will also be discussed.





Keywords: Antidiabetic; anticancer; biosynthesis; cardiovascular diseases; cholesterol; clinical application; functional foods; high blood pressure; low-density lipoprotein; naturopathy; nutraceuticals; phytosterol oxidation products; phytosterols; safety; therapeutics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/092986711797287593

Publication date: October 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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