Beta-sitosterol is a plant sterol that has similar structure to human cholesterol. It is found in vegetarian foods such as black cumin, saw palmetto, nuts and seeds, avocados, wheat germ, soybeans, and corn oil. Because of its structural similarity, beta-sitosterol can affect the cholesterol and hormone levels in your body, and thus it has been extracted and purified into dietary supplements to help with the prevention and treatment of sterol-related diseases.
Blood Cholesterol Reduction
The most notable benefit of beta-sitosterol is that it can help reduce your blood cholesterol concentration. Beta-sitosterol inhibits the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the intestines and prevents the transport of dietary and synthesized cholesterol into your blood stream. These inhibitions can effectively decrease the low density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol concentration in your blood. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or other predispositions for heart disease, you can take beta-sitosterol supplements to help prevent hyperlipidemia and reduce your risks of cardiovascular diseases.
There is a case study that showed that high blood levels of beta-sitosterol can cause problems in males who have had a heart attack. So, if you have previously suffered a heart attack or any other heart condition, you should consult with your cardiologist before taking beta-sitosterol.
Prevention of Prostate Hypertrophy and Cancer
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. Men between ages 50 and 60 have a 40% to 50% chance of developing prostate cancer and the risk rises to 80% as they hit 80. Beta-sitosterol has been approved in Europe as an effective treatment for prostate hypertrophy. It binds to the prostate, reducing its exposure to inflammations and prevention the prostate from becoming enlarged. There is evidence that beta-sitosterol can help relieve troubled urination in men with enlarged prostate. If you are over the age of 50 or suffer from prostate hypertrophy, you can definitely benefit from beta-sitosterol supplementation.
Aid in Breast Cancer Treatment
Tamoxifen, an estrogen suppressing steroid, is used to treat breast cancer. Studies have shown that taking dietary supplement of beta-sitosterol can improve the efficacy of treatment.
Prevention and Treatment of Hair Loss
Beta-sitosterol can inhibit the function of androgen, which contributes to hair loss in both men and women. Studies have shown that by taking beta-sitosterol with saw palmetto, you can stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth.
Prevention of Gallstones
People who are on high-fat diets or have a history of fatty liver or gallbladder disease are highly likely to develop gallstones. Taking extra beta-sitosterol supplements can help promote dietary fat and cholesterol breakdown which reduces your risk of gallstone formation.
Ambiguous Effect on Sex
The effect of beta-sitosterol on sex drive is still under debate. There are some evidence that shows that taking beta-sitosterol supplementation can increase male sex drive and enhance sexual performance. However, there are also contradictory evidence that shows that beta-sitosterol supplements may cause erectile dysfunction.
Avoid Beta-Sitosterol During Pregnancy or Lactation
Because beta-sitosterol may counteract with estrogen in your body, it can cause serious pregnancy complications, including preterm labor. Though there is no apparent medical evidence for these adversities, taking beta-sitosterol supplementation is not recommended for pregnant or lactating mothers.