This Week’s Quiz

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Plant Steroid – Stigmasterol

Stigmasterol is an unsaturated plant sterol occurring in the plant fats or oils of soybean, calabar bean, wild yam, rapeseed, and in a number of medicinal herbs, including the Chinese herbs, Mai men dong and American Ginseng. Stigmasterol is chemically similar to animal 1) ___. Stigmasterol is used as a 2) ___ in the manufacture of synthetic progesterone, a valuable human hormone that plays an important physiological role in the regulatory and tissue rebuilding mechanisms related to estrogen effects. Stigmasterol also acts as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of androgens, estrogens, and corticoids. Research has indicated that 3) ___ may be useful in prevention of certain cancers, including ovarian, prostate, breast and colon cancers. Studies have also indicated that a diet high in phytoesterols may inhibit the absorption of cholesterol and lower serum cholesterol levels by competing for 4) ___ absorption. Plant sterols and stanols represent a group of 5) ___ that are an essential constituent of cell membranes in animals and plants. Cholesterol is actually a sterol of human cells, whereas phytosterols are produced by plants. The most common plant sterols are sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. Plant sterols, although structurally similar to cholesterol, are not 6) ___ by the human body and are very poorly absorbed. The specific plant sterols that are currently incorporated into foods, supplements and drugs are extracted from soybean oil and wild yams. Dr. Percy Julian did major research in plant steroids.

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