Phytosterols are recommended in combination with diet therapy to reduce elevated LDL-cholesterol level. Meta-analyses indicate a 10% reduction in LDL-cholesterol from intake of approximately 2 g phytosterols/d incorporated into fat-based foods. However, the cholesterol lowering effect from capsules containing phytosterols is less documented. The pre-specified primary endpoint of the present study was to investigate the effect of capsules with phytosterols on circulating LDL-cholesterol in patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia.
In a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study, 41 men and women were randomized into two four-weeks intervention periods with softgel capsules containing either phytosterols (2.0 g/d) or sunflower oil. There was a three-weeks washout period between the intervention periods.
No significant difference in total- or LDL-cholesterol between the phytosterol and the placebo period were observed after four weeks intervention (0.0 mmol/L (95%CI: -0.3 to 0.2), P = 0.74 and -0.1 mmol/L (95%CI: -0.3 to 0.1), P = 0.32, respectively).
Daily intake of capsules containing 2 g phytosterols did not reduce total- or LDL-cholesterol significantly in a highly relevant target group for the use of phytosterol products. The present results may emphasize the importance of choosing a suitable dosage-delivery system in order to achieve optimal cholesterol lowering effect. The study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov, IDno:NCT00485095.