Phytosterol glycosides reduce cholesterol absorption in humans

Xiaobo Lin, Lina Ma, Susan B. Racette, Catherine L.Anderson Spearie, Richard E. Ostlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Dietary phytosterols inhibit intestinal cholesterol absorption and regulate whole body cholesterol excretion and balance. However, they are biochemically heterogeneous and a portion is glycosylated in some foods with unknown effects on biological activity. We tested the hypothesis that phytosterol glycosides reduce cholesterol absorption in humans. Phytosterol glycosides were extracted and purified from soy lecithin in a novel two-step process. Cholesterol absorption was measured in a series of three single-meal tests given at intervals of 2 wk to each of 11 healthy subjects. In a randomized crossover design, participants received ∼300 mg of added phytosterols in the form of phytosterol glycosides or phytosterol esters, or placebo in a test breakfast also containing 30 mg cholesterol-d7. Cholesterol absorption was estimated by mass spectrometry of plasma cholesterol-d7 enrichment 4-5 days after each test. Compared with the placebo test, phytosterol glycosides reduced cholesterol absorption by 37.6 ± 4.8% (P < 0.0001) and phytosterol esters 30.6 ± 3.9% (P = 0.0001). These results suggest that natural phytosterol glycosides purified from lecithin are bioactive in humans and should be included in methods of phytosterol analysis and tables of food phytosterol content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G931-G935
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Deuterium
  • Diet
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Oils


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