Date of this Version
Prev. Nutr. Food Sci. 2017;22(2):67-80
Cholesterol is a vital component of the human body. It stabilizes cell membranes and is the precursor of bile acids, vitamin D and steroid hormones. However, cholesterol accumulation in the bloodstream (hypercholesterolemia) can cause atherosclerotic plaques within artery walls, leading to heart attacks and strokes. The efficiency of cholesterol absorption in the small intestine is of great interest because human and animal studies have linked cholesterol absorption with plasma concentration of total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Cholesterol absorption is highly regulated and influenced by particular compounds in the food supply. Therefore, it is desirable to learn more about natural food components that inhibit cholesterol absorption so that food ingredients and dietary supplements can be developed for consumers who wish to manage their plasma cholesterol levels by non-pharmacological means. Food components thus far identified as inhibitors of cholesterol absorption include phytosterols, soluble fibers, phospholipids, and stearic acid.