What is Sterol?

Sterols are an important natural active substance widely present in living organisms and are divided into three major groups according to their raw material sources, such as animal sterols, plant sterols and fungal sterols. Animal sterols are mainly cholesterol, which is synthesized in the liver and is essential for various physiological processes. Plant sterols are mainly glutathiol, soy sterols and rape oil sterols, etc., while ergosterol belongs to mycorrhizal sterols. Sterols play an important role in the regulation of cellular functions. They are also used in the production of hormones, vitamin D and bile acids.

What is the Structure of Sterols?

Sterols are organic molecules with a specific chemical structure. They are characterized by a four-ring structure called the steroid nucleus. These rings are labeled A, B, C and D, with the A ring being the most important for biological activity. The basic structure of sterols consists of three six-carbon rings (A, B and C) and a five-carbon ring (D) fused together in a specific arrangement. These rings consist of carbon and hydrogen atoms, and they can also contain other functional groups such as hydroxyl groups (-OH).

What is Sterol

Here are some examples of sterols

  • Aloe sterol. Significantly increases skin barrier function, moisture and elasticity in photoprotected skin
  • Beta-sitosterol. It is an organic compound with the molecular formula C29H50O, a white crystalline solid, widely found in nature in various plant oils, nuts and other plant seeds, and also in some phytomedicines. β-sitosterol is more often used in the pharmaceutical industry for its unique biological properties and physicochemical properties.

What is Sterol

  • Cholesterol. A sterol found in cell membranes that is important in the synthesis of hormones and vitamin D.
  • Ergosterol. A sterol found in the cell membranes of fungi that can be converted to vitamin D when exposed to UV light.
  • Brassinosteroids. A phytosterol found in canola oil and other vegetable oils.

Stanols and Sterols

  • Sterols are steroids that contain hydroxyl groups. They all have cyclopentane polyhydrophenanthrene as their basic structure and contain hydroxyl groups, so they are called steroids. Plant Sterols make up the cell membranes of many plants. They are found in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and some fruits. The chemical structure is similar to that of human cholesterol and essentially they are a plant cholesterol.
  • Stanols can be obtained by saturating sterol esters. stanols make it possible to concentrate the compounds in foods that are not commonly available, such as margarine or granola bars.

The main difference between Stanols and Sterols is the presence or absence of double bonds in the side chain of the molecule. stanols have a saturated side chain, meaning that all the carbon-to-carbon bonds in the side chain are single bonds. Sterols, on the other hand, have at least one double bond in the side chain.

Foods with the Highest Sterol Content

Flaxseed, wheat germ, rye, almonds, walnuts and pecans, cauliflower, red onions, carrots, potatoes, kale, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.

Applications of Sterol Analysis

Sterol analysis is the process of identifying, quantifying and characterizing sterols in various biological samples such as plants, animals and microorganisms. Sterol analysis has many applications in various fields.

  • Medical research. To locate and measure cholesterol and other sterols in the blood and other tissues, sterol analysis is employed. Studies on heart disease, obesity, and other metabolic problems can benefit from this information.
  • Pharmaceutical industry. In the search and development of new drugs, sterol analysis is essential. The identification and isolation of natural substances that might be helpful for the creation of novel medications is aided by sterol analysis.
  • Food industry. In the food sector, sterol analysis is crucial for identifying and measuring plant sterols. The creation of functional foods that decrease cholesterol levels depends on this knowledge.
  • Environmental Sciences. The identification of biomarkers for environmental pollutants is aided by sterol analysis. Sterols can be used as a stand-in for other substances by researchers to pinpoint the sources of contamination, monitor the spread of contaminants, and judge the state of the environment.
  • Microbiology. In microbiology, several microorganisms are identified and described via sterol analysis. Sterol profiles from specific bacteria and fungus can be utilized to identify them.
  • Forensic Science. In forensic science, sterol analysis is performed to locate and measure sterols in biological samples like blood and urine. This information is helpful in situations like drug misuse and sports doping.

A versatile technology that offers crucial information in a variety of sectors, sterol analysis has a wide range of applications.

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