Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil compressed from the seeds of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient. The world's largest sunflower oil producers now are Ukraine, Russiaand Argentina.
Sunflower oil is a monounsaturated (MUFA)/polyunsaturated (PUFA) mixture of mostly oleic acid (omega-9)-linoleic acid (omega-6) group of oils. The oil content of the seed ranges from 22% to 36% (average, 28%): the kernel contains 45–55% oil. The expressed oil is of light amber color with a mild and pleasant flavor; refined oil is pale yellow. Refining losses are low and the oil has good keeping qualities with light tendency for flavor reversion. The oil contains appreciable quantities of vitamin E, sterols, squalene, and other aliphatic hydrocarbons.
In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for sunflower crops such as sunflower oil. Measures such as the development of hybrid sunflowers to increase oil production have been introduced to meet this demand.
Sunflower oil has a large number of benefits that help in keeping the body healthy and strong. Though it is included in the list of high fat items, it is gaining popularity as a cooking oil due to its wide variety of health-enhancing nutrients. The perfect balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats makes it perfect for reducing the levels of bad cholesterol. Thus, more and more people are incorporating it in their diet. Some of its health benefits are given below.
Sunflower oil is rich in Vitamin E and low in saturated fat. Besides, it is rich in certain phytochemicals like choline and phenolic acid that are beneficial for your heart. It also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats along with vitamins that makes it one of the healthiest oils for consumption. High oleic sunflower oils contain 80% or more monounsaturated fats. Thus, sunflower oil helps in lowering cardiovascular diseases and chance of heart attack.
Sunflower oil is the ultimate solution for those having worries about developing arthritis. Sunflower oil helps in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.
Sunflower oil contains more Vitamin E than any other cooking oil. Thus, incorporating this oil in your diet provides you protection against asthma and colon cancer.
The carotenoids found in sunflower oil help in the prevention of uterine, lung and skin cancers. In addition, they provide a good source of Vitamin A and aid in preventing cataracts.
The saturated fats found in other oils are difficult to break down completely during metabolism. Consequently, they are carried to different parts of the body by the blood and get deposited, thus increasing the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels. This causes health problems like embolism, atherosclerosis, joint pains and birth defects.
Sunflower oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which provide energy besides maintaining an ideal LDL/HDL (good cholesterol) ratio in the body. Sunflower oil also contains lecithin which helps in lowering cholesterol level. This is because it sticks to your nerve and cell linings, thus preventing fat and cholesterol from sticking to the cell.
Sunflower oil acts as an antioxidant as it is rich in Vitamin E or tocopherols that help in neutralizing the cancer-causing free radicals. The free radicals damage the cells and the immune system.
Sunflower oil also contains proteins, which are vital for building and repairing tissues and the production of hormones and enzymes. Our body requires high amounts of proteins. Since the body does not store proteins, they have to be consumed, and sunflower oil fulfils this requirement.
Sunflower oil is useful in reducing the risk of infection in pre-term infants having low birth weight. The infants are more likely to suffer from infections because of underdeveloped immune system and organs such as the skin. Sunflower oil acts as a protective barrier and prevents such infection.
The Vitamin B content of sunflower oil promotes a healthy nervous system, proper digestion and is a great source of energy.
Sunflower oil contains selenium that is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiac problems and hepatic degradation. A high level of selenium in your blood is also instrumental in reducing the risk of lung and skin cancers.
Folate or folic acid found in sunflower oil helps in the manufacture of new cells. Magnesium prevents muscle cramps whereas tryptophan relaxes the brain and promotes sleep by aiding in the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Sunflower oil is a natural and healthy way of maintaining a great skin, thanks to its calming and emollient (moisturizing) properties. Being rich in nutrients and antioxidants, it is widely used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and is found to be effective against acne, eczema, inflammation, general redness and irritation of the skin. Some of the benefits of sunflower oil for the skin are as follows.