Beta-sitosterol: Natural support for the prostate, heart and more

Men have unique health needs when it comes to managing hormones and prostate health. One of the supplements that come out on top for managing men’s health is plant sterols.

Whether you are concerned about the frustrations of urinary troubles due to an enlarged prostate or your receding hairline, plant sterols are a natural solution that can help.

Plant sterols are chemicals found in plant foods. One plant sterol that is especially beneficial in many ways for men is beta-sitosterol. This compound naturally occurs in pumpkin seeds, soy, beans, nuts, seeds and avocados.

It can be useful in supporting prostate health but this powerhouse doesn’t stop there. Beta-sitosterol can contribute to heart health, improve cholesterol levels, relieve anxiety — and more.

Prostate benefits of plant sterols

Beta-sitosterol has a long history of use in treating symptoms of enlarged prostate. Many studies on beta-sitosterol show that it can help with the urinary symptoms that accompany having an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Beta-sitosterol works by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase activity, which is the way that many prescription drugs like finasteride (Proscar) work. Studies show that beta-sitosterol can help improve BPH symptoms such as increased urinary flow rates, decreasing the amount of urine left in the bladder after urinating and improving the overall quality of life.

If you value your sexual health, take note. Proscar side effects include decreased sexual function, low libido, retrograde ejaculation and other health problems. These effects can last up to 40 months after you stop taking the medications. Some men report having permanent erectile dysfunction after taking BPH drugs. That’s why considering natural supplements, such as plant sterols like beta-sitosterol, are an attractive choice for managing men’s health.

Beta-sitosterol is important to aging men because inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase activity also prevents testosterone from being converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This secondary hormone has several effects in older men such as leading to BPH and contributing to male pattern baldness by stopping hair growth.

Plant sterols have other prostate benefits. Saw palmetto, which contains beta-sitosterol, is helpful for men struggling with prostatitis and BPH.

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Heart health benefits and more

Men often have other health issues that go beyond prostate and sexual health. Many men struggle with heart health and cholesterol. Here’s how beta-sitosterol can help…

Heart health:

Surprisingly, the amount of researched-gathered data on plant sterols and heart health is even more robust than the data on the benefits of plant sterols for prostate health

Foods that contain plant sterols and stanols are among several cholesterol-lowering foods. They work by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines, reducing total cholesterol levels and LDL (or bad) cholesterol while not affecting the HDL (or good) cholesterol. You end up excreting cholesterol rather than absorbing it.

This can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis or hyperlipidemia which could lead to heart disease.

Hair loss:

Beta-sitosterol can also help with mild to moderate male pattern balding. A placebo-controlled, double-blind study on natural 5-alpha-reductase type II inhibitors like beta-sitosterol was conducted and published in 2002. The researcher reported that “beta-sitosterol promoted significant improvement in 6 out of 10 male study subjects with mild-to-moderate androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern balding.”

Anxiety:

In a series of behavioral experiments, mice given beta-sitosterol showed much less anxiety than the controls. For example, they didn’t hide in the dark corners of their enclosure but instead ran around exhibiting behavior that scientists who work with mice regularly recognize as happy.

And to top it off, mice taking the natural compounds showed none of the side effects that would go hand-in-hand with taking anti-anxiety medications.

Insulin resistance:

In other research using mice, results showed that beta-sitosterol reduced blood sugar levels, possibly due to increased insulin response.

Another study using diabetic rats found that giving them 20 milligrams/kilograms of beta-sitosterol per day normalized blood sugar and insulin levels after taking the supplement for 30 days.

Miscellaneous benefits:

It has even been suggested that beta-sitosterol can help with allergies and rheumatoid arthritis. Some people use beta-sitosterol to help boost their immunity.

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How to find plant sterols

Plant sterols naturally occur in plant foods and are being added to more foods such as oils, salad dressings, juices and snack bars. Here are a few good sources:

  • Canola oil – Packed with 96 mg of the compound per tablespoon
  • Avocados – Right up there with canola oil at a whopping 95 mg per cup
  • Pistachios – A tasty treat with a full 71 mg of beta-sitosterol per cup
  • Almonds – Delivering 46 mg per cup of nuts
  • Fava beans – Another great option at 41 mg per cup

While you should eat a diet that emphasizes plant foods, it is just as easy and safe to take a supplement that contains beta-sitosterol if you are looking to maintain an adequate level across the board.

A big reason supplements can be more helpful is that our bodies absorb less than 5 percent of the beta-sitosterol in foods, and you don’t necessarily want to add extra calories into your diet to get the plant sterol benefits.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!

Sources:

Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease — Journal Atherosclerosis

Maier, Karyn. Beta-Sitosterol to Treat Hair Loss. Livestrong.com. 20 Nov 2013.

A natural food supplement may relieve anxiety — EurekAlert!

An update on β-sitosterol: A potential herbal nutraceutical for diabetic management — Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy

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Craig Cooper

By Craig Cooper

Craig Cooper is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author, and TV host of CNBC's "Adventure Capitalists". He is an “Ambassador” for both the global men’s health foundation “Movember” and 2XU, the performance sportswear company. He is the author of the Harper Collins book “Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40“. Follow Craig on Instagram @craigcooperrrr and Facebook.