A comprehensive research study conducted to determine the effectiveness of 27 different nuts and seeds in lowering blood cholesterol levels; sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts have been found to have the maximal effect. The presence of high levels of phytosterol (plant chemicals which reduce cholesterol levels and improve function of heart) makes nuts and seeds an ideal cholesterol lowering agent and thereby improve cardiac function.
On analysis, sesame seeds and wheat germ were found to rank highest in terms of the phytosterol content. But the limited consumption of these agents as individual foods prevent the realization of the potential health benefits. The next highest position is being taken up by Pistachios and sunflower kernels.
Futhermore, the Americans were found to consume large amounts of these agents in the form of a snack. Details of the study have been published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Walnuts and Brazil nuts were found to have the lowest cholesterol reduction property as revealed by minimal levels of phytosterol content.
Although the present study throws light on the widespread use of sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts for reduction of cholesterol, these are not the only cholesterol lowering compounds. In addition, strict adherence to exercise regimes and eating a well-balanced diet might be necessary for maintenance of a good physical and mental health.