The prevalence of duodenal ulceration in regions of developing countries with a stable diet is related to the staple food(s) in that diet. A higher prevalence occurs in areas where the diet is principally milled rice, refined wheat or maize, yams, cassava, sweet potato or green bananas, and a lower prevalence in areas where the staple diet is based on unrefined wheat or maize, soya, certain millets or certain pulses. Experiments using animal peptic ulcer models showed that the lipid fraction in foods from the staple diets of low prevalence areas gave protection against both gastric and duodenal ulceration, including ulceration due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and also promoted healing of ulceration. The protective activity was found to lie in the phospholipid, sterol and sterol ester fractions of the lipid. Amongst individual phospholipids present in the phospholipid fraction, phosphatidyl ethanolamine (cephalin) and phosphatidyl choline (Lecithin) predominated. The sterol fraction showing activity contained β-sitosterol, stigmasterol and an unidentified isomer of β-sitosterol. The evidence shows that dietary phytosterols and phospholipids, both individually and in combination, have a protective effect on gastroduodenal mucosa. These findings may prove to be important in the prevention and management of duodenal and gastric ulceration including ulceration due to NSAIDs. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.