Phytosterols are substances in plants that are similar to hormones or hormone precursors and act as food for hormone production in our body without the potential toxic effect of synthetic hormones.
Phytosterols are chemically similar to cholesterol, and are widely found in the plant kingdom. There are over 40 phytosterols, but beta-sitosterol is the most abundant one, comprising about 50 percent of dietary phytosterols. The next most abundant are campesterol (33 percent), stigmasterol (2-5 percent). Other phytosterols found in our diet include brassicasterol, delta-7-stigmasterol and delta-7-avenasterol.
Beta-sitosterol has been shown in many studies to promote healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also has been shown to be a strong antiinflammatory, to have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Research suggests beta-sitosterol may help to protect our stomach lining and prevent ulcers.