Is sunflower oil healthy for cooking? What are the benefits and side effects of sunflower oil? What is the best cooking oil? You may have so many questions on cooking oil since oil is more related to human health.
Sunflower oil has a prime place in our kitchens for cooking. Oil is an essential ingredient in cooking. It adds great taste to our food.
As we all know that excess use of oil intake is not good for health. However, using sunflower oil for cooking also offers both good and bad effects on our health.
Let us explore how far sunflower oil good or bad for cooking and our health.
Sunflower Oil: Good or Bad?
Many of us have not come across this question. We blindly believe Sunflower oil is good for cooking since this oil is widely used for cooking in the world.
This is the time to know some factors about Sunflower oil.
Sunflower is a widely cultivated oilseed in the word. This oilseed is a good source of energy, vitamins, essential fatty acids and minerals. However, many studies do not suggest this oil for cooking and regular consumption in foods.
This article has listed some significant reasons to avoid Sunflower oil for cooking. Sunflower oil is a major source of PUFA (Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids).
Before getting into the benefits and side effects of sunflower oil, let us understand the ingredients of sunflower oil and different sunflower oil labels (Cold-Pressed Oil & Expeller-Pressed Oil) used in the market.
Sunflower Oil Ingredients & Nutritional Fact
Sunflower oil is a commonly used edible oil for frying and cooking food. It is extracted and processed from sunflower seeds.
The prime ingredients of sunflower oil are polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, linoleic acid and oleic acid.
Did You Know:
The scientific name of sunflower is Helianthus annus.
Russia and Ukraine are the largest producers of sunflower oil.
Let us review the nutritional information of a popular sunflower oil brand in the market for your better understanding.
The nutritional information label shows that 100 grams of sunflower oil give you 9,00,000 calories, which is not healthy for your diet.
It also consists of polyunsaturated fatty acids (minimum 49 grams), monounsaturated fatty acids (minimum 14 grams), Saturated fatty acids (maximum 17 grams) and trans fatty acids (maximum 2 grams).
The brand promotes the product as rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D, that is additionally added.
Thus, sunflower oil is the major source of unsaturated fatty acids with very high calories.
The side effects sunflower oil due to a higher level of unsaturated fatty acid is discussed in the later section.
Whatsapp Fact Check:
A Whatsapp message has been circulating that states that sunflower oil is extracted and purified from crude oil. This crude oil does not refer to or related to petroleum. Crude sunflower oil refers to the prime extracts of sunflower seeds.
Cold-Pressed Oil Vs Expeller-Pressed Oil
Cold-Pressed Sunflower Oil
- Extracts sunflower oil using cold press oil extraction (produced in low temperature below 122-degree Fahrenheit) without using chemical additives, heating or additional processes.
- Antioxidants are highly retained in cold-pressed oils
- Extracted from organic sunflower seeds
- Unbleached and unrefined
Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil
- Sunflower oil is extracted by squeezing sunflower seeds through a barrel-like cavity using continuous pressure and friction.
- Produced in temperature between 140 to 210-degree Fahrenheit (higher than cold-pressed extraction method)
- Does not use additional chemicals like cold-pressed method
Oil extracted using cold-pressed method retains a high level of antioxidants. Thus, cold-pressed oil is a good option for cooking when compared to expeller-pressed oil.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Oil
The biological activities of various biological compounds exist in sunflower oil relates to the following health benefits .
i) Zero Cholesterol
Sunflower oil is a plant-based oil that is cholesterol-free. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) reduces total cholesterol level that reduces the chances for heart risks.
ii) Reduces Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory property of sunflower oil prevents gastric damage and oxidative damage.
iii) Antioxidant Effects
The antioxidant property of Sunflower oil reduces cellular damage and controls the risks of chronic diseases.
iv) Healing Wounds
Arachidonic acid and linoleic acid in sunflower oil help to heal wounds faster.
Side Effects of Sunflower Oil
i) Increases Sugar level
Sunflower oil is not suitable for people with diabetes. This oil may lead to the possibility of increasing the levels of sugar content in the blood.
A research was done on aged rats identified that the regular consumption of sunflower oil increases insulin content level in blood. A group of aged rats was fed sunflower oil included food for two years.
In order to perform a comparative study, another group of aged rats was fed olive oil included food for a similar period of time. At the end of the study, results revealed that the health of aged rats those regularly consumed sunflower oil was negatively affected by the increase of insulin level in blood. According to the study, regular consumption of sunflower oil creates age-related disorders (2).
ii) High Content of Omega-6 fatty acids
Sunflower oil has a high content of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Regular or high consumption food with polyunsaturated fatty acid is not good for health.
iii) Increases toxic compounds while deep frying
Sunflower oil can be easily degraded to toxic compounds while heating. Sunflower oil and Safflower oil are used for deep frying since the smoke point of sunflower oil is high when compared to other cooking oils.
However, this could increase the toxic compounds while deep frying due to the high level of poly-unsaturated fat in sunflower oil (5).
Is Sunflower Oil Healthy – Conclusion
Although sunflower oil has some potential health benefits because of its biological properties, it causes side effects on health.
Thus, sunflower oil may not healthier when compared to some other edible oil used for cooking, that is discussed in the below section.
Alternative Oil for Cooking
You can consider the following alternatives for sunflower oil to reduce the level of health risks caused by polyunsaturated fatty acid.
- Coconut Oil is the best oil for cooking due to the level of its saturated fat. Many studies suggested that usage of Coconut Oil could increase the good cholesterol level. Coconut Oil with full of saturated fat and its good behaviour at high temperature are the major reasons to suggest Coconut oil for cooking.
- The use of mustard oil is better for cooking when compared to the use of sunflower oil. A study identified that the use of mustard oil for cooking could reduce heart diseases by 70%.
- Ground Nut Oil is a heart-friendly oil which is rich in Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA). It offers a well-balanced diet.
Although these oils can be considered as the alternatives for Sunflower Oil, I suggest reducing any type of oil in your diet for a healthy life.