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J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Dec;20(12):927-39. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.06.009. Epub 2009 Sep 3.

Beyond blood lipids: phytosterols, statins and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid therapy for hyperlipidemia.

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Nutraceuticals Research Group, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.


Phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids are natural compounds with potential cardiovascular benefits. Phytosterols inhibit cholesterol absorption, thereby reducing total- and LDL cholesterol. A number of clinical trials have established that the consumption of 1.5-2.0 g/day of phytosterols can result in a 10-15% reduction in LDL cholesterol in as short as a 3-week period in hyperlipidemic populations. Added benefits of phytosterol consumption have been demonstrated in people who are already on lipid-lowering medications (statin drugs). On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been associated with significant hypotriglyceridemic effects with concurrent modifications of other risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, including platelet function and pro-inflammatory mediators. Recent studies have provided evidence that the combination of phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids may reduce cardiovascular risk in a complementary and synergistic way. This article reviews the health benefits of phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids, alone or in combination with statins, for the treatment/management of hyperlipidemia, with particular emphasis on the mechanisms involved.

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