People often speak of cholesterol as if it were simply something to be avoided. The fact is, this fat compound is an important element in the body and is manufactured in the liver. Problems arise when our diet contains too much saturated fat, which contains a type of cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) that can build up on artery walls and cause blockages.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is crucial for building cell membranes, producing hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, and possibly supporting higher brain functions. A level of HDL that is too low is as much a problem as a level of LDL that is too high. The key is proportion.
Cholesterol is contained in animal fats. Plants also have fats, called phytosterols. We've known for some time that certain plant sterols can help the body maintain a healthier balance between "good" and "bad" cholesterol. These sterols have a low bioavailability, which means it is difficult to access them through diet alone.
Plant sterols combine with LDL cholesterol and bind it in a form that can be excreted, thus improving the balance between LDL and HDL and lowering the overall cholesterol level. The FDA has recognized that plant sterols may reduce the risk of heart disease when used in conjunction with a diet that limits cholesterol and saturated fats. Natur-Leaf®, which obtains sterols and sterolins through an exclusive, proprietary process, is the most effective nutritional supplement available, containing approximately 40 mg of sterols and sterolins per capsule.