Washington: Sunflower seeds and pistachios are the top among nuts and seeds that contain the highest levels of phytosterols, a compound that reduces cholesterol levels and improves heart health, according to a study.
Chemists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University analysed some 27 nut and seed products in what is believed to be the most comprehensive analysis to date, science portal EurekAlert reported.
They found that pistachios and sunflower kernels had the highest levels of phytosterols among nuts and seeds most commonly consumed as snack foods in the US.
Sesame seed and wheat germ actually ranked highest, but are not consumed as frequently as individual foods. Similarly Brazil nuts and walnuts ranked the lowest in phytosterols, the researchers reported in their study that appeared in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
However, they cautioned that phytosterols are not the only food component involved in lowering cholesterol and that other compounds may also play a role. A well-balanced diet and frequent exercise are important keys to good health, they stressed.