Peanuts as a source of beta-sitosterol, a sterol with anticancer properties

Nutr Cancer. 2000;36(2):238-41. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC3602_14.


Work from our laboratory, as well as others, suggests a protective role of phytosterols (PS), especially beta-sitosterol, from colon, prostate, and breast cancer. Asians and vegetarians consume higher amounts of PS than Western societies. The latter societies have a higher incidence of these cancers than Asians and vegetarians. The aim of this study was to evaluate peanuts and its products as sources of PS in the American diet. Roasted peanuts contain 61-114 mg PS/100 g depending on the peanut variety, 78-83% of which is in the form of beta-sitosterol. Unrefined peanut oil contains 207 mg PS/100 g, which is similar to that of the US Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database. This value is higher than that of unrefined olive oil. Refining these oils results in reduction in PS concentration in the oil. This loss is greater in the case of olive oil than peanut oil. Further refining, such as deodorization, results in significant loss in PS, but hydrogenation after refining has a minimal effect on PS loss. Peanut butter, which represents 50% of the peanuts consumed in the United States, contains 144-157 mg PS/100 g. Peanut flour, which results from partial removal of oil from peanuts, contains 55-60 mg PS/100 g. The data suggest that peanuts and its products, such as peanut oil, peanut butter, and peanut flour, are good sources of PS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / analysis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arachis / chemistry*
  • Arachis / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Phytosterols / analysis
  • Phytotherapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sitosterols / analysis*
  • Sitosterols / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Phytosterols
  • Sitosterols
  • gamma-sitosterol