Many dietary recommendations which try to lower the concentration of total, respectively LDL
cholesterol, force us to look back to vegetable-based diet. The plants synthesize many compounds similar
to cholesterol, called phytosterols and phytostanols, and these sterols are consumed in average Western
diet in amounts ranging from 200 to 500 mg/day. Phytosterols and phytostanols share the mechanisms of
absorption with cholesterol molecule and influence the cholesterol metabolism inside the enterocytes.
Both types of phytoanalogs of cholesterol were proven to be potent cholesterol-reducing agents; their
daily intake about 2 g/day reduces the LDL-cholesterol by 15 %. The underlying mechanisms involve the
prevention of cholesterol absorption from the gut lumen and slower esterification rate of phytosterols
(phytostanols) inside the enterocytes. In contrary to phytostanols, phytosterols are absorbed with yet-tobe-
considered efficiency, appearing in plasma with concentrations reaching as much as 1 % that of total
cholesterol. The hypocholesterolemic effect of phytosterols (phytostanols) can be further supported with
the combination of dietary (n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibre) regimen as well as pharmacological
intervention (statins). To conclude, plant sterols represent safe dietary approach to lowering of plasma
total cholesterol with the attention paid to the intake of lipid soluble vitamins.
phytosterols, phytostanols, cholesterol, diet.