Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Do you like pistachios?

Chemists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., analyzed some 27 nut and seed products and found that pistachios and sunflower kernels had the highest levels of phytosterols among the nuts and seeds that are most commonly consumed as snack foods in the United States.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry is the most comprehensive analysis of nut and seed varieties to date. Twenty-seven different products, including American peanut butter, were evaluated and it was found that sesame seeds and wheat germ contained the highest concentration of phytosterols with over 400 mg per 100 g.

(One of the major sterols examined was beta-sitosterol.)

Sesame seeds had the highest total phytosterol content (400-413 mg per 100 grams), and English walnuts and Brazil nuts the lowest (113 mg/100grams and 95 mg/100 grams). (100 grams is equivalent to 3.5 ounces.) Of the nuts and seeds typically consumed as snack foods, pistachios and sunflower seeds were richest in phytosterols (270-289 mg/100 g), followed by pumpkin seeds (265 mg/100 g).

Smooth peanut butter contained, on average, a higher concentration of phytosterols than the chunky variety, 135 versus 132 mg per 100 g.

Don't overdo it, but enjoy a handful or 200 calories of nuts per day.

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