Beta-sitosterol is included in a variety of dietary supplements and functional foods, such as margarines designed to lower cholesterol. This substance is claimed to help with a number of conditions, including:
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Enlarged prostate (known medically as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
Although most people are able to use this supplement without any problems, side effects are possible and may include nausea, gas, and diarrhea.
At this time, beta-sitosterol has good evidence of lowering cholesterol levels, as well as possibly treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. However, there is not enough evidence to tell if it is effective for other uses.
(To read more about this supplement, including how it works and why the dosing guidelines may vary depending on your situation, click Beta-Sitosterol.)