According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “substantial evidence” exists that plant sterols can lower heart disease risk. They are thought to help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the absorption of LDL cholesterol from the small intestines into the blood stream by as much as half. In more than 100 clinical studies, they shown they can fight heart disease by lowering cholesterol.

Ramona Cappello, chief executive officer and founder of Corazonas Foods, which makes snacks that are fortified with plant sterols, says Corazonas uses a process that infuses plant sterols into its snack foods at levels Cappello says can actually increases the plant sterols’ efficacy. The company offers oatmeal squares with 0.8 g. of plant sterols per serving and tortilla chips with 0.5 g. of plant sterols—what she says are significantly high levels of plant sterols.

Data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, recommends at least 1.3 g. of plant sterol esters per day for a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. The AHA says that at least 2 g. are necessary achieve the maximum cholesterol-lowering effect. Plant sterols are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and vegetable oils, but the levels are usually lower, and don’t have a significant effect on LDL cholesterol. The FDA recommends that individuals consume at least 0.8 grams of plant sterols per day in order to keep cholesterol at a healthy level.