CH, an amphipathic molecule, has a steroid nucleus and branched-hydrocarbon tail. CH is found in the diet both in the free form and esterified to FA, particularly C18:2n-6. CH is found only in foods of animal origin; plant oils are cholesterol free. Although free of CH, plant materials do contain phytosterols, compounds chemically related to CH. Common dietary phytosterols are listed in Figure4.2. Phytosterols differ in their chemical side-chain configuration and steroid-ring-bonding pattern. The most common dietary phytosterols are b-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. 5-a-Hydrogenation of phytosterols forms saturated phytosterols, including campestanol and sitostanol. Increasing evidence suggests that saturated phytosterols, such as sitostanol, inhibit CH absorption better than more hydrophilic plant sterols, such as b-sitosterol. These saturated phytosterols are found in very small amounts in normal diets but can be commercially produced.
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