Phytosterol, squalene, tocopherol content and fatty acid profile of selected seeds, grains, and legumes

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2007 Sep;62(3):85-91. doi: 10.1007/s11130-007-0046-8. Epub 2007 Jun 27.


The unsaponifiable lipid fraction of plant-based foods is a potential source of bioactive components such as phytosterols, squalene, and tocopherols. The objective of the present study was to determine the levels of phytosterols, and squalene, as well as tocopherols (alpha and beta + gamma) in selected grains, seeds, and legumes. The method comprised acid hydrolysis and lipid extraction followed by alkaline saponification, prior to analysis by HPLC. In addition, the fatty acid profile of the foods was determined via total lipid extraction, fatty acid derivitisation and GC analysis. In general, beta-sitosterol was the most prevalent phytosterol, ranging in concentration from 24.9 mg/100 g in pumpkin seed to 191.4 mg/100 g in peas. Squalene identified in all foods examined in this study, was particularly abundant in pumpkin seed (89.0 mg/100 g). The sum of alpha- and beta+ gamma-tocopherols ranged from 0.1 mg/100 g in rye to 15.9 mg/100 g in pumpkin seeds. Total oil content ranged from 0.9% (w/w) in butter beans to 42.3% (w/w) in pumpkin seed and the type of fat, in all foods examined, was predominantly unsaturated. In conclusion, seeds, grains, and legumes are a rich natural source of phytosterols. Additionally, they contain noticeable amounts of squalene and tocopherols, and in general, their fatty acid profile is favorable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Food Analysis
  • Phytosterols / analysis*
  • Plant Oils / analysis
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Squalene / analysis*
  • Tocopherols / analysis*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Oils
  • Squalene
  • Tocopherols