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Food sources of plant sterols in the EPIC Norfolk population



To investigate the intake of plant sterols and identify major dietary sources of plant sterols in the British diet.


A total of 24 798 men and women recruited during 1993–1997, participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk).


A database of the plant sterol (campesterol, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campestanol and β-sitostanol) content in foods, based on gas-liquid chromatography (GLC) analyses, was linked to nutritional intake data from food frequency questionnaires in the EPIC-Norfolk population.


The mean (s.d.) intake of total plant sterols was 300 (108) mg/d for men and 293 (100) mg/d for women. Bread and other cereals, vegetables and added fats were the three major food sources of plant sterols representing 18.6 (8.9), 18.4 (8.5) and 17.3 (10.4)% of the total plant sterol intake respectively. Women had a higher plant sterol density than men (36.4 vs 32.8 mg/1000 kJ, P<0.001) and in relation to energy intake higher intakes of plant sterols from vegetables, bread and other cereals, added fats, fruits and mixed dishes (all P<0.001), whilst men had higher intakes of plant sterols from cakes, scones and chocolate, potatoes (all P<0.001) and other foods (P<0.01).


The intake of plant sterols in UK, mainly from bread, cereals, fats and vegetables, is much higher than previously reported but comparable to recent European studies.

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We thank the participants and general practitioners who took part in EPIC-Norfolk. EPIC–Norfolk is supported by programme grants from the Cancer Research Campaign and Medical Research Council with additional support from the Stroke Association, British Heart Foundation, Food Standards Agency, Department of Health and Wellcome Trust. The phytosterol analyses were supported by a grant from the Swedish government under the LUA agreement and the Swedish Cancer Foundation. This work was supported by FORMAS, the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, Grant no 22.2/2003-0655 and Swedish Research Council, Grant no 521-2003-3826.

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Correspondence to S Klingberg.

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Guarantor: S Klingberg.

Contributors: K-TK and SB are principal investigators in the EPIC-Norfolk population study. AW and SB are responsible for the nutritional analyses. HA, SA and LE developed the plant sterol nutrient database. AM and AB prepared the plant sterol data set in the EPIC cohort. SK was principal investigator for this study and wrote the paper with contributions from co-authors.


Appendix 1

The plant sterol contents in six specific British food items and in a selection of foods are given in Table A1.

Table a1 Plant sterol content in six specific British food items (mg/100 g of fresh weight, edible portion)

Appendix 2

Plant sterol content in a selection of foods (mg/100 g of fresh weight, edible portion) is given in Table A2.

Table a2 Plant sterol content in a selection of foods (mg/100 g of fresh weight, edible portion)

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Klingberg, S., Andersson, H., Mulligan, A. et al. Food sources of plant sterols in the EPIC Norfolk population. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 695–703 (2008).

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  • plant sterols
  • food sources
  • population
  • diet

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