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Discover the many benefits of sunflower oil
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Sunflower Oil
The extraction of sunflower oil is carried out by pressing the seeds of Helianthus annuus, commonly known as the sunflower plant. Sunflower oil is light yellow (pale golden) and has very little flavour or aroma of its own. The benefits of sunflower oil make it one of the most popular and commonly used oils in Indian kitchens.
Today, we will explore sunflower oil benefits and its side effects, which are worth considering if you have been using or wish to use it for everyday use!
Types of Sunflower Oil
Before we get into the benefits of sunflower oil, let us understand the different types of sunflower oil. Typically, there are four variants of sunflower oil available, which vary depending on their fatty acid composition.
The types of sunflower oil are:
- High Stearic or High Oleic (72% oleic and 18% stearic)
- High Oleic (82% oleic)
- Mid-Oleic (65% oleic), and
- High Linoleic (68% linoleic)
Linoleic acid is commonly known as Omega-6, while Oleic acid is Omega-9. High Stearic sunflower oil is not used for cooking at home.
Nutritional Facts About Sunflower Oil
|High Linoleic||Mid-Oleic||High Oleic|
Possible Health Benefits of Sunflower Oil
Most of the health benefits of sunflower oil are associated with high in oleic varieties of sunflower oil. Let’s take a look at these benefits of sunflower oil:
Promote Cardiovascular Health
One of the most well-known benefits of sunflower oil is its ability to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Clinical trials of 2005 highlighted that the presence of oleic acid eliminates bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. Other research discovered that sunflower oil also increases good (HDL) cholesterol in the body. This improved cholesterol profile keeps your heart healthy and reduces the risk of heart-related conditions.
Perfect for Hair, Skin, and Nails
You can enjoy the benefits of sunflower oil even when you apply it topically to your hair, skin, and nails. Sunflower oil contains a healthy amount of Vitamins A and E, which neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. The oil accelerates the recovery of the skin barrier, while its antifungal properties can fight infections.
Amps Up Your Energy Levels
Athletes and those lead an active life can enjoy the benefits of sunflower oil as it is rich in unsaturated fats. It stimulates the liver for enhanced production of glycogen, which is the body’s energy source. Hence, you will get an energy boost!
May Help Fight Cancer
The ability to ward off cancer is one of the lesser-known benefits of sunflower oil. However, it must be stated that this anti-cancer quality was only observed in clinical trials conducted on mice. Much is yet to be known about its chemopreventive effects.
The above benefits of sunflower oil paired with the fact that sunflower oil may contain anti-inflammatory properties makes it potent enough to support your body’s immune system.
Side Effects of Sunflower Oil
After going through the benefits of sunflower oil, let us take a look at its side effects:
Not Suitable for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
While the vitamins present in sunflower oil may help pregnant and lactating women, the high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids can be a cause of concern. Research suggests that omega-6 can convert into substrates competing with EPA, women should severely restrict their consumption of sunflower oil during this period.
May Aggravate Symptoms of Diabetes
Studies indicate that linoleic acid in sunflower oil can elevate fasting insulin and blood glucose levels. Further, as discussed above, sunflower oil can boost the release of glycogen, which could be problematic for diabetes patients.
Can Trigger Allergies
Those allergic to marigolds, chrysanthemums, ragweed, and daisies, may also be allergic to sunflower plant. Therefore, sunflower oil can trigger their allergies.
After going through the sunflower oil benefits and side effects, it becomes clear that consumers must opt for the high in oleic variety of sunflower oil. Even though it can be considered as healthy cooking oil, one must consume it in moderation due to its high omega-6 content. Due to its instability, it is more suited for lower heat applications.