Phytosterols are a group of chemical compounds of plant origin (which includes stigmasterol, campesterol, sitosterol) present in the seeds produced by certain plants, such as soy. Because they are found in significant quantities in various foods, including tree nuts, vegetable oils and grains, they are easily consumed through food. Phytosterols are used as ingredients in various supplements for their ability to reduce blood levels of cholesterol and in particular of bad cholesterol (ie the Low density lipoprotein or “Ldl” cholesterol, the one characterized by low density lipoproteins) and the consequent risk of atherosclerosis. Scholars agree that in order to maximize the usefulness of the intake of phytosterols, with the aim of reducing the risk of atherosclerosis in the population, it would be necessary to examine the action of the individual subcomponents of phytosterols (stigmasterol, campesterol, sitosterol, etc.) on the lipoproteins present in the human body.
According to some studies, phytosterols would also be able to prevent the onset of certain types of cancer (colon, prostate, breast) and would favor the maintenance of healthy prostate and urinary tract in general.