Plant stanol ester in Benecol inhibits cholesterol absorption in small intestine

Plant stanol ester lowers blood cholesterol by partly inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine. As soon as the plant stanol ester reaches the small intestine it is rapidly hydrolysed to free plant stanols and fatty acids. Free plant stanols can then interfere with the solubilisation of cholesterol, i.e. the incorporation of cholesterol into mixed micelles. This happens because of the structural similarity of plant stanols and cholesterol. Solubilisation of cholesterol into mixed micelles is a necessary part of cholesterol uptake; the less cholesterol is solubilised into mixed micelles, the more cholesterol is excreted from the body. Ingestion of plant stanols reduces cholesterol absorption from the digestive tract with 40-45%.1-2

The fatty acid part of Plant stanol ester is absorbed into the body in the same ways as other fatty acids present in the food. Plant stanol ester reduces the absorption of both dietary and biliary cholesterol. Plant stanols particles themselves are virtually unabsorbed by the body.

Reduced cholesterol absorption results in a significant reduction in serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations. HDL cholesterol concentration is not affected.


1. Gylling et al. Circulation 1997
2. Miettinen et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2000