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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 May 3;54(9):3462-71.

Common sources and estimated intake of plant sterols in the Spanish diet.

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Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, Instituto del Frío, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CL José Antonio Novais 10, Ciudad Universitaria, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.


Plant sterols (PS) are minor lipid components of plants, which may have potential health benefits, mainly based in their cholesterol-lowering effect. The aim of this study was to determine the composition and content of PS in plant-based foods commonly consumed in Spain and to estimate the PS intake in the Spanish diet. For this purpose, the determination of PS content, using a modern methodology to measure free, esterified, and glycosidic sterol forms, was done. Second, an estimation of the intake of PS, using the Spanish National Food Consumption data, was made. The daily intake per person of PS--campesterol, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and stigmastanol--in the Spanish diet was estimated at 276 mg, the largest component being beta-sitosterol (79.7%). Other unknown compounds, tentatively identified as PS, may constitute a considerable potential intake (99 mg). When the daily PS intake among European diets was compared in terms of campesterol, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and stigmastanol, the PS intake in the Spanish diet was in the same range of other countries such as Finland (15.7% higher) or The Netherlands (equal). However, some qualitative differences in the PS sources were detected, that is, the predominant brown bread and vegetable fat consumption in the northern diets versus the white bread and vegetable oil consumption in the Spanish diet. These differences may help to provide a link between the consumption of PS and healthy effects of the diet.

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