Phytosterols, useful against cholesterol and as a natural barrier against COVID-19

«The fastest vaccines in history have taken four years,» explained the minister of Science, Andrew Couvein the official report on COVID-19 of this Wednesday. To have a certified option against the coronavirus “internationally, 12 to 18 months are spoken of,” she added.

There are natural preventive actions that we can take during the wait to strengthen and balance the immune system, reducing both the chances of viral infection and the impact of the disease. biochemistry Maria Cecilia Branes, Ph.D. in Biological Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University and senior researcher at Naturalis Research Consortiumexplains the benefits of daily consumption of phytosterols, a product of natural origin that inhibits the absorption of cholesterol, and on which its positive effects with respect to COVID-19 are studied.

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-Until now the most recognized mechanism would occur at the intestinal level and would be competition with cholesterol for entry into the body. However, despite the fact that for a long time the possibility that it has an effect within the organism has been ignored, other ways of acting within various cell types that control the metabolism of cellular energy sources and nutrients have now begun to be revealed. immunological processes.

Phytosterols can help in 3 aspects:

  1. Regulating dyslipidemia associated with overweight and that it is the basis of several comorbidities that predispose the population to greater risk, for example, in diabetic patients, patients with renal insufficiency and cardiovascular disease, among others.
  2. Regulating immune function favoring an immune balance when it is altered.
  3. Regulating viral infectivity since it could reduce the mechanisms that control the entry of the virus into the cell and that depend on the presence of cholesterol in the cell membrane.
  • The natural source of phytosterols includes all plant products. However, among these, those with the highest content (between 44 and 300 mg/100 g) are the oils contained in some seeds and cereals. Among the seeds are those of canola, soybean, marigold and peanut and among the cereals is the rye, wheat, corn, barley and oats and also pseudo cereals such as amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat. Then there is the group with contributions less than 60 mg/100, among which avocado and olives and its oils Y oranges, bananasand the group of cabbage.

The current international consensus is based on a daily consumption of 2 grams of phytosterols to reduce bad cholesterol by approximately 10%. This level of intake is only achievable with food supplements based on phytosterols since it is impossible to achieve even with a vegetarian diet, which on average provides around 400 milligrams per day.