European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 111–117

Very high plant stanol intake and serum plant stanols and non-cholesterol sterols

  • Helena Gylling
  • Maarit Hallikainen
  • Markku J. Nissinen
  • Piia Simonen
  • Tatu A. Miettinen
Original Contribution



Today, consumers meet abundant supply of functional foods with plant stanol increments for serum cholesterol lowering purposes. However, efficacy and safety of plant stanols intake beyond 4 g/day have remained unexplored.

Aim of the study

We evaluated the effects of very high daily intake of plant stanols (8.8 g/day) as esters on cholesterol metabolism, and serum levels of plant sterols and stanols.


In a randomized, double-blind, parallel study of 49 hypercholesterolemic subjects (mean age 62 years, range 41–73) consumed a test diet without (control, n = 24), and with added plant stanol esters (staest, n = 25) over 10 weeks followed by 4 weeks on home diet. Serum lipids, lipoprotein lipids, and non-cholesterol sterols were determined at baseline, during intervention, and 4 weeks afterwards. Cholesterol precursor sterol lathosterol reflected cholesterol synthesis, and serum plant sterols and cholestanol mirrored cholesterol absorption.


When compared with controls, 8.8 g/day of plant stanols reduced serum and LDL cholesterol by 12 and 17% (P < 0.01 for both). Synthesis marker lathosterol was increased by 30%, while absorption markers decreased up to 62% when compared with controls (P < 0.001 for both). Serum plant stanols increased slightly, but significantly compared with controls (serum sitostanol during intervention, controls: 16 ± 1 μg/dL, staest: 37 ± 2 μg/dL, serum campestanol during intervention, controls: 0.5 ± 0 μg/dL, staest: 9 ± 1 μg/dL, P < 0.001 for both). Changes in serum cholesterol, non-cholesterol sterols, and plant stanols were normalized during post-treatment weeks.


Serum plant stanol levels remained at comparable low levels as in studies with daily intake of 2–3 g, and were normalized in 4 weeks suggesting that daily intake of 8.8 g of plant stanols might not increase systemic availability of plant stanols, but reduces effectively serum cholesterol and plant sterol levels.


Plant stanol ester Sitostanol Campestanol Sitosterol Cholesterol 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helena Gylling
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maarit Hallikainen
    • 1
  • Markku J. Nissinen
    • 3
  • Piia Simonen
    • 4
  • Tatu A. Miettinen
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Clinical NutritionUniversity of KuopioKuopioFinland
  2. 2.Department of MedicineKuopio University HospitalKuopioFinland
  3. 3.Division of Gastroenterology, Department of MedicineUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Division of Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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