Beta-sitosterol is a phytosterol, which is a sterol produced by plants. It is chemically similar to cholesterol, and the pure form is a waxy, white powder. Beta-sitosterol is soluble in alcohols but insoluble in water.
The most abundant dietary sources of beta-sitosterol include avocados and pecans. Additional sources include corn oils, pumpkin seeds, rice bran, soybeans and wheat germ. Beta-sitosterol is also found in other plants such as saw palmetto, sea-buckthorn and wolfberries.
Beta-sitosterol can also be biosynthesized in the body, generally during the process of making cell membranes. The specific process of making beta-sitosterol varies between organisms, but it typically uses cycloartenol. The deoxyxylulose and mevalonate pathways are also important in the biosynthesis of beta-sitosterol.
The complete synthesis of beta-sitosterol in the laboratory is not yet possible, although it can be synthesized from stigmasterol. The primary difficulty in using beta-sitosterol as a chemical intermediate is establishing a chemical point of attack on beta-sitosterol’s side chain. The best solution at this time is to ferment a solution of beta-sitosterol with a species of pseudomonas bacteria.
Beta-sitosterol’s similarity to cholesterol may cause it to restrict the cholesterol that enters the body. This action may allow beta-sitosterol to help manage healthy cholesterol levels. It may also bind to the prostate gland in men, which can help relieve discomfort.
The most common use of beta-sitosterol is to support heart and prostate health. Other uses include burn management and exercise recovery.
Oral supplements of beta-sitosterol may help you to maintain a healthy cholesterol profile, especially total and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) levels.
Marathon runners may also use topical preparations of beta-sitosterol to relieve discomfort after a run and help support the body’s natural recovery process.
Some people use an ointment containing beta-sitosterol and berberine to manage second degree burns.
A man’s prostate gland routinely gets larger as part of the aging process, which is known medically as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Beta-sitosterol may help relieve the discomfort of BPH, which include difficult or uncomfortable urination.
A high level of LDL in the blood, which is often the result of a high-fat diet, is one of the most common signs that you may benefit from beta-sitosterol. You may also want to take beta-sitosterol as a preventative measure if you have a family history of high cholesterol levels or other cardiovascular conditions. Prostate discomfort is also an indication that beta-sitosterol may help you. This condition is especially common in men who are more than 50 years of age.
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