What is phytosterols?
Many plants contain the cholesterol-like compounds, phytosterols. It is thought that phytosterols lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood. In fact, an intake of 2000 mg phytosterols may decrease cholesterol levels by 5-15% (Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute).
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is particularly rich in phytosterols, especially Beta-sitosterol.
Beta-sitosterol may decrease the rate of cell division. Pumpkin seeds include Beta-sitosterol. Avocado, nigella seeds, peanut butter, stinging nettle root, cashew nuts, almonds, peas, and brown beans also contain nice amounts of beta-sitosterol. Beta- sitosterols are used especially in the treatment of enlarged prostate.
The primary effect of beta-sitosterol is as 5-alpha reductases inhibitor. 5-alpha reductases is an enzyme that converts testosterone into the much more potent form dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
In some men and women this conversion is a little too effective, and therefore symptoms of elevated androgen levels occur:
- Extreme hair growth on the face, chest or arms
- Greasy skin and/or hair
- Hair loss on the head
- Darker or thicker skin in the armpit (Acanthosis nigricans)
- Acrochordon (also known as skin tag or skin poly - A small benign tumor that forms primarily in areas where the skin forms creases, such as the neck, armpit, groin, and eyelids)
- Irritability and rising temperament
- Cycle longer than 35 days
- Ovarian cysts
- Infertility or subfertility
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
Often seen for men: Enlarged prostate, hair loss, etc.
Thus, at elevated testosterone levels, it may be beneficial to eat much more of the natural 5-alpha reductases inhibitory foods, such as pumpkin seeds, avocado, saw palmetto, stinging nettle root, buckthorn, nuts, peas, etc.