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Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil for cooking is low in saturated fat but unfortunately contains high levels of linoleic acid, which is an omega-six polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Water 0.0%  00/00/100  LA (65.7g) !:0 (0g) ALA
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Sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus) and contains high levels of linoleic acid, which is an omega-six polyunsaturated fatty acid (Linoleic acid, LA).

Culinary uses:

Sunflower oil is popular thanks to its mild and pleasant flavor. Cold-pressed sunflower oil has a light amber color and a slightly nuttier flavored than refined sunflower oil. Cold-pressed sunflower oil can be added to salads, dressing, and sauces. It may be used for gently steaming vegetables, but it is not suitable for cooking at high temperatures. Refined sunflower oil has a more neutral flavor and a much lighter, pale yellow color. It can be heated to temperatures of up to 180 °C, however trans fats risk developing.1

Which oil is ideal for frying? High oleic sunflower oil has a high smoke point and is ideal for pan frying and deep frying at temperatures of up to 210 °C.

Sunflower oil is common in baby food. It also often used to make margarine or mayonnaise because of its yellow color. Please note: Even though sunflower oil has a high content of unsaturated fatty acids, the ratio of omega-6 (LA) to omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) is very poor. Sunflower oil contains high quantities of omega 6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation. Which oil is healthier: canola oil or sunflower oil? Canola oil contains a much higher content of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. You can read more about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the link in the box as well as further down in the text. Read more about this in the box link and further down in the text.

Vegan recipe for Banana and Blueberry Cake:

Ingredients: 250 g whole grain spelt flour, 150 g rolled oats, 200 ml high oleic sunflower oil, 80 g brown sugar, 1 sachet baking powder, 1 pinch salt, 150 g blueberries, 3 bananas.

Preparation: Mash bananas and blueberries and mix well with all other ingredients. Grease a cake tin, dust with flour and pour batter into the tin. Bake at 200 °C for about 35–40 minutes.

Purchasing — where to shop?

You can find refined sunflower oil in all major supermarkets such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Extra Foods, Metro, and Freshmart (Canada); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl (Great Britain); Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Harris Farm (Australia). You can recognize sunflower oil by its pale yellow, almost transparent color. Sunflower oil contains hardly any valuable nutrients because it has usually been treated at high temperatures and with chemical solvents (e.g., hexane). Its main advantages are that it can be heated to high temperatures and that it has a long shelf life.

You may be able to find organic cold-pressed sunflower oil at selected supermarkets, organic supermarkets, health food stores, and online. Cold pressed sunflower oil is often referred to as ‘native’. It contains valuable nutrients and has a more intense color and flavor. Organic oil is never refined, and at most partial deodorization is allowed. However, many organic associations are critical of deodorization and have prohibited its practice. Cold pressed sunflower oil is made from unhulled, germinable seeds that have a flavor that some people perceive to be bitter, tart, or even rancid.2 If sunflower oil tastes rancid, this usually means that the oil has undergone too much oxidation or has been exposed to water.

Finding wild:

Wild sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus) can be found along roadsides, in piles of rubble, and in sunflower fields.

Making sunflower oil:

Sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds. Machines are used to hull and clean the seeds. Cold-pressed sunflower oil is made using a mechanical press. Mechanical pressing does not heat the oil to temperatures of above 40 °C. While it may be assumed that virgin, cold-pressed sunflower oil is never heated to temperatures above 30 °C, there is no evidence of this in laws or regulations.3 However, olive oil production is subject to temperature restrictions (see the ingredient olive oil).

Sunflower oil is refined through hot pressing, which involves steaming sunflowers at temperatures around 100 °C or using a chemical solvents (e.g., hexane). These processes extend the shelf life of the sunflower oil, preserve a particular flavor, and modify the color of the oil. The refining process is also necessary if the oil is to be processed further for (industrial purposes?? check)

Refining removes undesirable and toxic substances from the oil, including pigments, odors, flavors, and bitter substances.4

Refined sunflower oil has a greater yield, however the process results in an oil that has fewer nutrients, phytonutrients, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.


When stored in a sealed vessel in a dark and cool place, sunflower oil keeps for over one year, and refined sunflower oil can be used for up to two years. Cold-pressed sunflower oil, on the other hand, should be placed in the refrigerator after opening and be consumed quickly. It is better to keep the oil in several small bottles rather than one large bottle to reduce the exposure of the oil to oxygen.

Nutrients — nutritional values — calories:

Sunflower oil contains 884 calories/100 g, the entirety of which is fat. Saturated acids account for about 10 % of sunflower oil’s calories. The ratio of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) to omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) is 616:1.5 DEBInet reports that 100 g sunflower oil contains 50.18 g omega-6 fatty acids and 0.18 g omega-3 fatty acids, which is a ratio of 280:1.

It is worth mentioning that sunflower oil contains considerable quantities of vitamin E (41 mg/100 g). Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role as an antioxidant in the body and increases the oil’s storage life. Hemp oil and hazelnut oil contain comparable amounts of vitamin E. Wheat germ oil contains significantly higher quantities of alpha-tocopherol, with 149 mg/100 g.5

Sunflower oil also contains small amounts of vitamin K: 5.4 µg/100 g. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin mainly found in green vegetables and lettuce. Spinach contains 483 µg/100 g and leek contains 46 µg/100 g. Canola oil contains 13 times more vitamin K than sunflower oil, with 71 µg/100 g.5

Cold-pressed sunflower oil retains most of the vitamins and fatty acids found in sunflower seeds.

Health benefits — effects:

Sunflower oil is said to help diabetics thanks to the monounsaturated oleic acid it contains. It also allegedly reduces resistance to the hormone “I”.6 Studies on cell cultures show that oleic acid suppresses the activity of tumor cells.7,8 However, natural sunflower oil contains only 19.5 % of monounsaturated oleic acids (18:1), while almonds and almond milk contain 31 %, canola oil contains bewteen 60 and 70 %, and safflower oil contains 74 %.

A 2017 study showed that regular consumption of linoleic acid counteracts type 2 diabetes.9

In vivo studies have shown a reduction in blood cholesterol levels in people with dyslipidemia when they regularly consume sunflower oil.10 However, commissioned studies commissioned by people in the oil industry exclusively focus on the benefits of oil and ignore side effects or comparisons to other, more nutritious foods.

Read the following section to learn about the harmful aspects of sunflower oil, which offset any health benefits.

Dangers— intolerances — side effects:

All refined vegetable oils contain fatty acid esters of 3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified as a “possible human carcinogen” in 2011. Refined vegetable oils and vegetable fats are some of the most concentrated sources of 3-MCPD fatty esters. 3-MCPD fatty esters are also found in solid fats such as margarines. Infant formula was proven to contain large quantities of fatty acid esters because of the refined fats and oils that go into making it. In most cases, it is the final stages of refining and deodorizing oils such as sunflower oil that 3-MCPD fatty esters develop. In some cases, they may also develop during steam treatment. Companies do not have to indicate whether their oil was refined on the label, so you should assume that oils are refined if they are not labeled as “cold pressed” or “native”. Animal fats such as butter and lard do not contain 3-MCPD esters, as they are not usually refined.11

Certain technological processes can transform cis configurations of unsaturated fatty acids can transform into trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids can lead to lipid metabolism disorders and promote coronary heart disease. Hydrogenation can change the texture and stability of oils and harden them. In the production of margarine, for example, unsaturated fatty acids are converted into saturated fatty acids.12 However, it is possible to reduce the content of trans fatty acids in food.13 Many European countries have introduced a limit on trans fats in food, meaning that just 2 % of a given product’s fat content may be trans fats.14

Cold-pressed sunflower oil contains a particularly large amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Although omega-6 fatty acids are important, they promote inflammation when consumed in excessive doses. Since we generally consume too much fatty acid, we should try to consume more omega-3 fatty acids. This can help to improve the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our diet (LA: ALA). A healthy ratio of omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) to omega-3 fatty acids is 5:1 or less. Oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil, canola oil, and walnut oil. However, avoiding oil altogether and consuming nuts and seeds rich in omega-3 instead would be healthier. You can find more about this on the page about olive oil.

Sunflowers may occasionally cause pollen and food allergies. They are in the same allergen community as mugwort and other plants in the daisy family.

Traditional medicine — naturopathy:

What is sunflower oil good for? Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic method of treatment in India. Sesame oil was also used to practice oil pulling and is effective against Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus acidophilus. In Russia, sunflower oil is considered an agent that pulls out toxins from the body thanks to the work of the Ukranian doctor Fedor Karach. Oil pulling is supposed to prevent pathogens developing in the mouth and throat area. Oil extraction is also said to have a positive effect against rheumatism and stomach and intestinal problems.7

Sunflower petals are also used in traditional medicine. They can be made into a tincture or tea to treat fever, for example, malaria or lung disease.15

Sunflower oil can also be applied externally, for example, to massage aches or to treat wounds that are healing poorly. Sunflower oil should have a laxative effect.15

Description — origin:

Sunflowers originate in North and Central America. Spanish explorers brought sunflowers to Europe. They were then extensiecly cultivated in the Russian part of Ukraine. Russia and Argentina are the largest producers of sunflowers.16 Sunflower oil is the fourth most produced oil in the world, after palm oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.17

Cultivation— harvest:

Sunflowers are annual plants that can grow to be up to 3 m tall, although this is rather rare.18 They have thick, hairy, strong stems that are filled with pith and hairy leaves arranged alternatively on the stem. The flower heads are large and can reach up to 35 cm in diameter. Sunflowers flower in summer from July to September. Sunflower seeds contain highly varied amounts of fat depending on the variety of the sunflower.15 The average annual grain yield is approximately 2.5 t/ha, while approximately 10 t of harvest residues will remain on the field.19

Short-stemmed varieties of sunflowers are preferable for harvesting ripe sunflower seeds. For green silage, tall, leafy cultivars are suitable.

High-oleic sunflowers (HO) are sunflowers that have been selectively bred (not genetically modified!) to obtain a high oleic acid content of 75–93 %. Normal sunflower varieties contain between 14 and 39.4 % oleic acid.20 The high percentage of oleic acid also increases the heat and oxidation stability of the oil.21 The smoke point of high oleic sunflower oil is approximately 220 °C.

Genetically modified sunflowers are controversial: they are said to be resistant to drought, heat, insecticides, herbicides, and plant diseases. In some countries such as Canada, genetically modified sunflowers are allowed to be cultivated.2

Danger of confusion:

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) could be confused with Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) around the period of flowering, with both species belonging to the same genus. Jerusalem artichokes can be used for their oil seeds as well as their inulin.

Animal protection — species protection — animal welfare:

Sunflower flowers are an ideal source of pollen for bees, insects, and birds. When grown in small gardens and on meadows, sunflowers can help to protect bees.

General information:

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) belong to the Asteraceae family, also known as composite. Their seeds contain about 50 % oil.

Alternative names:

The sunflower is also known as the common sunflower, the Kansas sunflower, and mirasol.

Keywords for use:

High-oleic sunflower oil containing more than 90 % oleic acid is used in the chemical industry to make products such as lubricants. They are also used in cosmetics.21

Sunflower oil is also a component of industrial paints, varnishes, and artists grade oil colors. It is used as a preservative for processing leather and in textile manufacturing.

Sunflower oil is also used as a fuel, but more research is needed in this area.

According to Wikipedia, Sunflower oil biodiesel (sunflower oil methyl esters) accounted for approximately 10 % of all biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esters) produced in Europe in 2007.

The pharmaceutical industry also uses sunflower oil to make ointments and creams, acting as a partial replacement for peanut oil and olive oil. Sunflower press cake is approved for animal feed.

In May 2019 there was a scandal about “adulterated olive oil”, where olive oil was mixed with sunflower oil and soybean oil.

Literature — sources

CLICK FOR: 21 sources

  1. Stiftung Warentest: Sonnenblumenöl - Gutes Öl muss nicht teuer sein.
  2. Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann: Hamburg, Potsdam. 2014.
  3. Wikipedia Sonnenblumenöl.
  4. Wikipedia Raffination.
  5. USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
  6. Finucane OM, Lyons CL, Murphy AM et al. Monounsaturated Fatty Acid-Enriched High-Fat Diets Impede Adipose NLRP3 Inflammasome-Mediated IL-1β Secretion and "Hormon-I" Resistance Despite Obesity. American Diabetes Association. 2015;64(6).
  7. Fleischhauer SG, Guthmann J, Spiegelberger R. Enzyklopädie Essbare Wildpflanzen. AT Verlag: Aarau. 2013.
  8. Kumar S, Ruiz Velasco AD, Michlewski G. Oleic Acid Induces MiR-7 Processing through Remodeling of Pri-MiR-7/Protein Complex. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2017;429(11).
  9. Wu JHY, Marklund M, Imamura F et al. Omega-6 fatty acid biomarkers and incident type 2 diabetes: pooled analysis of individual-level data for 39 740 adults from 20 prospective cohort studies. Diabetes 6 Endocrinology. 2017;5(12).
  10. Saedi S, Noroozi M, Khosrotabar N et al. How canola and sunflower oils affect lipid profile and antrhopometric parameters of participants with dyslipidemia. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2017;31(5).
  11. CVUA Stuttgart Chemisches und Veterinäruntersuchungsamt Stuttgart. 3-MCPD-Ester in raffinierten Speisefetten und Speiseölen - ein neu erkanntes, weltweites Problem. 2007
  12. Biesalski HK, Bischoff SC, Pirlich M et al. Ernährungsmedizin. 5. Auflage. Thieme: Stuttgart, New York. 2018.
  13. Jirzik K. Trans-Fettsäuren in Feinen Backwaren und Margarinen. Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit. Berichte zur Lebensmittelsicherheit 2014 - Bundesweiter Überwachungsplan 2014. Berlin. 2016.
  14. WHO Weltgesundheitsorganisation. Europa führend in der Eliminierung von Transfettsäuren. Kopenhagen. 2014.
  15. Pahlow M. Das grosse Buch der Heilpflanzen. Gesund durch die Heilkräfte der Natur. Nikol: Hamburg. 2013.
  16. Brücher H. Tropische Nutzpflanzen. Ursprung, Evolution und Domestikation. Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, New York. 1977
  17. USDA United States Department of Agriculture. Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade. 2019.
  18. Schilling E. Helianthus Linnaeus. Helianthus annuus. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford University Press: New York, Oxford. 2006;21.
  19. Kaltschmitt M et al. Energie aus Biomasse. Grundlagen, Techniken und Verfahren. Springer: Berlin. 2009.
  20. Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz. Deutsches Lebensmittelbuch - Leitsätze für Speisefette und Speiseöle. 2008
  21. Wikipedia High-Oleic-Sonnenblumen.

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