Phytosterols protect hearts—and wallets

If adults over 55 with heart disease take phytosterol supplements, it can lead to individual and societal health care savings by reducing risk of related medical events by over 11 percent.

A new report is available touting the important heart-healthy benefits of phytosterols, compounds found in plants that can lower cholesterol—something many of us could benefit from. And you may also appreciate the financial implications raised in this report, which indicate that taking phytosterol dietary supplements at preventive intake levels may impact your wallet by reducing the potential for a costly coronary heart disease (CHD)-related medical event.

The report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” conducted by Frost & Sullivan through a grant from the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF), shows that if the targeted population—U.S. adults over the age of 55 with CHD—takes phytosterol dietary supplements at the preventive intake levels identified in the report, it can lead to individual and societal health care savings by reducing risk of CHD-related medical events by over 11 percent.

“According to the economic report, for those currently suffering from CHD, it’s financially prudent to include phytosterols to help prevent medical events associated with the disease. Medical events are expensive; this report tells us it’s worth considering the 15 cents per day it costs to take phytosterols to help prevent these kinds of events in the first place,” said Steve Mister, president, CRNF.

According to the report, if U.S. adults over the age of 55 with CHD take phytosterol dietary supplements, nearly 2.3 million CHD-related medical events could be avoided between 2013 and 2020, totaling $34 billion in avoided expenditures over the same time period. Less than one percent of adults over the age of 55 take phytosterol dietary supplements, meaning almost 100 percent of this group still has yet to benefit. The number of adults aged 55 and over with CHD is expected to rise 13 percent between 2013 and 2020.

According to Duffy MacKay, ND, senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition, “Elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Daily consumption of phytosterols can prevent cholesterol buildup in the body by inhibiting its absorption in the intestine. I encourage my patients with or without high cholesterol to eat a phytosterol-rich diet that includes plenty of nuts, whole grains and vegetables. When diet changes are not enough to keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range, I recommend phytosterol-containing dietary supplements. This report reinforces phytosterols as a viable preventive health measure for these individuals.”

To achieve the report findings, Frost & Sullivan conducted a systematic review of scientific research in peer-reviewed, published studies that looked at a relationship between phytosterol dietary supplement intake and the risk of a CHD-attributed event. The firm then projected the rates of CHD-attributed medical events across U.S. adults over the age of 55 with CHD and applied a cost benefit analysis to determine the cost savings if people in this targeted population took phytosterols at preventive intake levels.

The full Frost & Sullivan economic report and accompanying materials, including a phytosterol dietary supplement infographic, are available for free at


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