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
  • Acne
  • 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.