Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

  • Phytostanols, sitostanol, cempestanol, stigmastanol, 5-alpha-stanols, stanol esters, sterols, sterol esters, phytosterols


Stanols/sterols are compounds found in some types of plants. They have been used to lower cholesterol. Stanols/sterols can be taken by eating soybean oil, margarine spreads, and some salad dressings. They can also be taken as a pill.


3 to 5 grams daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Diabetes—likely to lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol in people with diabetes A1
  • High Cholesterol—likely to lower LDL cholesterol B1-B10

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take stanols/sterols in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether they are safe to take for a long period. It is also not known whether they are safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


REFA Diabetes

REFA1 Baker WL, Baker EL, et al. The effect of plant sterols or stanols on lipid parameters in patients with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 May;84(2):e33-7.

REFB High Cholesterol

REFB1 Scholle JM, Baker WL, et al. The effect of adding plant sterols or stanols to statin therapy in hypercholesterolemic patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. J AM Coll Nutr. 2009;28(5):517-524.

REFB2 Wu T, Fu J, et al. The effects of phytosterols/stanols on blood lipid profiles: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2009;18(2):179-186.

REFB3 Hasani-Ranjbar S, Nayebi N, et al. The efficacy and safety of herbal medicines used in the treatment of hyperlipidemia; a systematic review. Curr Pharm Des. 2010;16(26):2935-2947.

REFB4 Talati R, Sobieraj DM, et al. The comparative efficacy of plant sterols and stanols on serum lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 May;110(5):719-726.

REFB5 Musa-Veloso K, Poon TH, et al. A comparison of the LDL-cholesterol lowering efficacy of plant stanols and plant sterols over a continuous dose range: results of a meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2011;85(1):9-28.

REFB6 Amir Shaghaghi M, Abumweis SS, et al. Cholesterol-lowering efficacy of plant sterols/stanols provided in capsule and tablet formats: results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Nov;113(11):1494-503.

REFB7 Castellanos-Jankiewicz A, Del Bosque-Plata L, et al. Combined effect of plant sterols and dietary fiber for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2014 Jun;69(2):93-100.

REFB8 Malhortra A, Shafiq N, et al. Dietary interventions (plant sterols, stanols, omega-3 fatty acids, soy protein and dietary fibers) for familial hypercholesterolaemia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(6):CD001918.

REFB9 Ras RT, Geleijnse JM, et al. LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of plant sterols and stanols across different dose ranges: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies. Br J Nutr. 2014;112(2):214-219.

REFB10 Han S, Jiao J, et al. Effects of plant stanol or sterol-enriched diets on lipid profiles in patients treated with statins: systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 19;6:31337.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 03/27/2020