, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 285-291

First online:

The content and composition of sterols and sterol esters in sunflower and poppy seed oils

  • Anna JohanssonAffiliated withDepartment of Food Hygiene, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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The composition and proportion of free sterols and sterol esters in crude sunflower and poppy seed oils were determined, using preparative thin layer chromatography followed by gas chromatography with cholesterol as an internal standard. Free sterols and sterol esters were also isolated in a liquid fraction obtained by low temperature crystallization (−80 C) of the oils and enriched with minor lipid classes. This enrichment procedure provided a liquid fraction suitable for studies of minor components in the oils. However, selectivity towards sterol esters was observed since sterols esterified to very long chain fatty acids (C20–C24) were preferentially retained in the precipitate. The proportions of free and esterified sterols were found to be 0.34 and 0.28%, respectively, in the sunflower oil, whereas the corresponding figures for poppy seed oil were 0.33% and 0.05%. Sunflower oil was characterized by a relatively high percentage of Δ7-sterols, preferentially obtained in the esterified fraction, and by very long chain saturated fatty acids of sterol esters. The sterols in poppy seed oil were composed almost entirely of campesterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol and Δ5-avenasterol, although their percentage distributions were remarkably different in the free and esterified fraction.