• David Kritchevsky
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 427)


Sterols are important structural components of cell and organelle membranes of higher organisms. The primary sterol found in animal organisms is cholesterol. Analogs of cholesterol in the plant kingdom are, as a class, termed phytosterols. Plant sterols resemble cholesterol structurally in that they all have a steroid nucleus, a 3β hydroxyl group, and a double bond between carbon atoms 5 and 6. The major differences are in side chain substitution and/or unsaturation. Bean1 has described 44 sterols that are present in plants. The principal plant sterols are β sitosterol (24α ethylcholesterol) which comprises 45–95% of the total sterol present in plant oils; campesterol (24α methylcholesterol) which may total 30% of the total sterols of seed oils; and stigmasterol (∆22, 24α ethylcholesterol) which may account for as much as 25% of the total sterol of seed oils. Brassicasterol (∆7,22, 24α methylcholesterol) is also present in appreciable quantities in plant oils and a sterol found principally in yeast, ergosterol (∆22, 24α methylcholesterol) is present in significant amounts in corn, cottonseed, peanut, and linseed oils. Weihrauch and Gardner2 have summarized the sterol content of a number of foods of plant origin. Tables 1 and 2 present data on the phytosterol content of selected vegetable oils and foods.


Serum Cholesterol Level Plant Sterol Total Sterol Phytosterol Content Dietary Sterol 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Kritchevsky
    • 1
  1. 1.The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and BiologyPhiladelphiaUSA

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