Nutritional support for prostate health is gaining wide popularity these days. Already established by the medical profession in Europe for the last twenty years, nutrients like saw palmetto and beta sitosterol are now becoming an accepted option in the United States as well, for prostate health maintenance. These two nutrients, derived from botanical sources, are prescribed by many doctors to their patients for nutritionally promoting healthy prostate functions and relieving discomforts associated with an aging prostate.
The question people are now asking is: Which is the better nutrient for promoting prostate health? Saw palmetto or beta sitosterol?
Beta sitosterol is a plant sterol ester found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It is found in saw palmetto berries, too. The chemical structure of beta sitosterol is similar to cholesterol. Today, "beta sitosterol" has become a household word since it is being used as a functional ingredient in many familiar food items we eat for its cholesterol-regulating properties. However, the role of beta sitosterol doesn't end there. Beta sitosterol has also been extensively studied for its vital role in supporting and maintaining a healthy prostate.
Saw palmetto, or Serenoa repens, is a palm tree that grows in the West Indies and along the southeastern coast of the United States.
The Mayo Clinic gives saw palmetto an A rating for its role in supporting the healthy aging of the prostate gland. The rating "A" denotes that there is sufficient evidence from scientific research for its efficacy. Berries of the saw palmetto plant are abounding in health-benefiting sterols and are used to produce prostate supplements. Saw palmetto contains a mix of various sterols, the star being beta sitosterol, known for its stellar role in supporting prostate health. While the benefit of saw palmetto has been recorded, there is debate on whether saw palmetto supplements available in the market contain enough beta sitosterol to be of any therapeutic use.
Just How Much Beta Sitosterol Is in Saw Palmetto?
The saw palmetto berries contain a mix of fatty acids, flavonoids, polysaccharides and sitosterols. In general a typical saw palmetto product would contain 85 to 95 percent of mixed sterols and fatty acids. The mixed sterols are cholesterol, brassicasterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, beta sitosterol and comprise just about 1 percent of the nutritional profile of saw palmetto berries.
Beta Sitosterol is More Effective for Promoting Prostate Health
While beta sitosterol has been pinpointed as the sterol that provides prostate health benefits, most saw palmetto supplements in the market contain about 85 percent of fatty acids and just a minute quantity of beta sitosterol. They may not contain an adequate supply of active ingredients to be of much benefit. The better option for promoting prostate health would obviously be a pure extract of beta sitosterol.
What Does the Research Show?
Much research has been conducted on saw palmetto. Comparatively, research on beta sitosterol began about 50 years ago. Studies conducted on saw palmetto show conflicting inferences. Some research shows it to be effective, while other studies do not show any positive results. In contrast, studies using beta sitosterol are more conclusive and show consistently significant positive inferences.
Who Should Take Beta Sitosterol supplements?
- Men over 40 should start taking beta sitosterol supplements.
- Men who have a history of prostate ailments in the family, men who are overweight or are African American may want to begin taking nutritional support at an earlier age since there are higher incidences reported in such groups.
- Those suffering from the discomforts of an aging prostate may also find relief in taking beta sitosterol supplements.