What Are Phytosterols?

Phytosterols can help keep your heart and brain young. Find out which foods contain them and how much you need

Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

The word "phytosterol" may be unfamiliar but you've probably been eating them your whole life.

At least I hope you have!  

Because a diet rich in phytosterols is a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease. And now, researchers suspect that phytosterols also play a role in prevention of Alzheimer's disease as well.

Read on to learn more.

What Are Sterols?
The word “phyto” means plant, of course. But what does “sterol” mean? Sterols are a family of molecules with a specific shape and structure. Phytosterols are sterols found in plants. The sterols you find in animals are called zoosterols and the best-known of these is cholesterol. And here’s where the link between phytosterols and heart disease comes into play.

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