Grasas y Aceites, Vol 63, No 3 (2012)

Tocopherols and phytosterols in sunflower seeds for the human food market

A. Fernández-Cuesta
Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS-CSIC), Spain

A. Nabloussi
INRA-CRRA. P.O, Morocco

J. M. Fernández-Martínez
Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS-CSIC), Spain

L. Velasco
Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS-CSIC), Spain


Sunflower seeds for the human food market are derived from both oilseed-type cultivars, with black achenes and low hull proportion, and confectionery-type cultivars, with striped achenes and high hull proportion. The objective of this research was to evaluate tocopherol and phytosterol contents in the seeds of both types of cultivars. Five oilseed-type and seven confectionery-type cultivars were evaluated in replicated field trials in two locations of Morocco and Spain. Large variations were found in hundred-kernel weight (2.6 to 5.5 g), kernel oil content (42.7 to 67.5%), tocopherol content (203 to 397 mg kg–1 kernel), and phytosterol content (2179 to 3555 mg kg–1 kernel). Both types of cultivars did not differ for kernel weight, kernel oil content, or tocopherol and phytosterol profiles. However, oilseed-type cultivars had significantly greater average tocopherol and phytosterol contents, though confectionery-type cultivars with levels of tocopherols and phytosterols similar to the best oilseed-type cultivars were identified. The large variations in kernel tocopherol and phytosterol contents found in this research suggest that there is room for breeding for increased levels of these compounds in order to develop healthier sunflower cultivars for the human food market.


Confectionery sunflower; Oil content; Oilseed sunflower; Phytosterols; Tocopherols; Variability

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