Intake of phytosterols (and -stanols) has been shown to decrease the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and thus protect against development of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, studies on the cultivar and year-to-year variation in phytosterol content in rye grains have been performed. The phytosterol content and composition of different rye cultivars, grown under identical conditions on the same field in three consecutive years, were analyzed. Both cultivar and year-to-year variation in sterol content were statistically significant (p <0.0001). The total sterol content varied from 1007 +/- 21 mg/kg in the highest yielding cultivar, Tsulpan 3, to 761 +/- 10 mg/kg in the lowest yielding cultivar (Amando in the 1999 harvest). Because the meteorological conditions varied substantially between the different years, it was possible to deduce the impact of varying weather conditions on phytosterol content in the different cultivars. The studied cultivars had all the lowest phytosterol contents in the dry and warm harvest season of 1999. Although there were statistically significant cultivar and year-to-year variations in the sterol composition (p <0.0001), these were only between 2 and 4% of the total sterol content.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2004, Vol 52, Issue 9, p. 2593-2597