Sunflower Oil: Health benefits and Side effects

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Sunflower oil is non volatile oil obtained from sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus L.; family Asteraceae) grown well in most regions of the world like Europe, America, Asia and Australia for many years and ranked 4th position at world level as a source of vegetable oil after  palm, soybean, cottonseed, groundnut, and canola. 

The sunflower seed, consumed worldwide as a snack or as an ingredient in bread, baked goods or muesli bars, as well as added to mixes of nuts or fruits (1).

Benefits of sunflower seeds

Sunflower seed is an excellent source of healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber and other important nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, folate, iron, and phytochemicals.

The seeds of sunflowers are good for the nerves, brain, and eyes and for the general health.

Refined sunflower oil is yellow in color with a mild flavor and commonly used as a salad, cooking recipes, as well as for frying. Furthermore, sunflower oil has a very low melting point which is beneficial to use as sauces and emulsions that have to be kept cold (2).

Nutritional value of sunflower oil

Different types of sunflower oil are available in the market like high linoleic, high oleic and mid oleic. It is highly nutritious with a clean taste, low levels of trans fat constituted of saturated fatty acids (11%), monounsaturated fatty acids (20%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (69%) (3). On the other hand, it also contains essential vitamin E, vitamin K, lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids and waxes (4)

Compound                                                                       Amounts/ 100 g.
Water 0 g
Energy                                                                        884 kcal
Protein 0 g
Total lipid (Fat)s 100 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Calcium 0 mg
Iron 0 mg
Magnesium 0 mg
Phosphorous 0 mg
Potassium 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Zinc 0 mg
Folates 0 µg
Niacin 0 mg
Riboflavin 0 mg
Thiamin 0 mg
Vitamin A 0 IU
Vitamin C 0 mg
Vitamin E 41.08  mg
Vitamin K 5.4  µg
Fatty acids, total saturated 10.100 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 45.400 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 40.100 g
Cholesterol 0 mg

 Health benefits of sunflower oil

1. Sunflower oil is low in cholesterol

Sunflower oil contains unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid which is capable of lowering triacylglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. It also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and thereby lowers the risk of heart attack (5).

2. Good for glowing skin

Sunflower oil is a rich source of oleic and linoleic acids than olive oil. Which possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the skin like improve skin hydration, enhances skin barrier repair, and healing of wounds.

Moreover, sunflower oil is beneficial for the treatment of dermatitis, dry skin, and scaly skin, wrinkling, aging defects. Therefore, sunflower oil can be used as a therapeutic and cosmetic agent for skin treatment (6).

3. Prevents cancer

Antioxidant selenium present in sunflower oil neutralizes free radicals, inhibiting cancer cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis (7).

4. Sunflower oil is good for the heart

Vitamin E in oil acts as an anti-atherosclerotic agent which block thrombosis at sites of vascular injury. Thus inhibit pathologic platelet vascular interactions associated with atherosclerosis and protect from reactive oxygen species. Therefore consumption of these antioxidants reduces the risk of heart and atherosclerosis disease (8).

5. Immune booster property of sunflower oil

Sunflower oil contains an adequate amount of essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid and vitamin E which is essential for the maintenance of the immune response. Sunflower oil can be a good choice to be included in a diet (9).

6. Good for oral health

Sunflower oil is very beneficial for pulling the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa from the oral cavity and reduce plaque-induced gingivitis by oil pulling. It also possesses antibacterial activity against Candida albicans. Therefore, oil pulling by sunflower oil is very useful for oral hygiene aid (10).

7. Sunflower oil helps in the prevention of inflammation

Sunflower oil improves antioxidant defense systems and prevents gastric damage caused by Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin. 

Therefore, consumption of sunflower oil with indomethacin as well as other NSAIDs do not have any adverse effect on the gastrointestinal tract and prevent inflammation (11).

8. Ozonized sunflower oil Treat onychomycosis

Ozonized sunflower oil may be helpful to treat onychomycosis which is a fungal infection of nails infected one in three diabetics patient, leads to increased risk for other foot disorders and even limb amputations. 

Thus sunflower ozonized oil is a novel and promising alternative therapy against fungal strain such as Candida parapsilosis, Candida albicans, Trichosporon asahii, Candida tropicalis and Candida guilliermondii (12).

The side effect of sunflower oil

1. Sunflower oil is not good for pregnant and lactating mothers

Sunflower oil consumption seems to conserve breast-milk retinol which is the source of Vitamin A which is good for infant health (13). 

However, too much intake of omega-6-rich oils found in sunflower is shown an adverse effect because they are converted to substrates that compete with EPA. Therefore you should avoid excessive consumption of sunflower oil in this condition (14).

2. Should not use sunflower oil as a hair oil

Sunflower oil is used by people because of its non-freezing property and its odorlessness at ambient temperature. 

However, sunflower oil does not help at all in reducing the protein loss from hair because it contains linoleic acid (bulky structure due to double bond) which do not penetrate the fiber, consequently resulting in no favorable impact on protein loss (15).

3. Risk of lipid peroxidation

Sunflower oil contains highly unsaturated fatty acid which reduces antioxidants and produces toxic compounds in the oils after frying.

Thus, sunflower oil is less resistant to oxidative stress produced by frying and led to a higher degree of lipid peroxidation in liver microsomes (16).

4. The risk for diabetic patient

A research study suggested that when sunflower oil consumed by high-fat diet individual it did not improve or even worsened inflammatory state and insulin resistance induced by this diet (17).

5. Risk of Asthma

Sunflower contains Omega-6 fatty acids which change the membrane fluidity of neutrophils and reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines thus increase the risk of inflammatory conditions and allergic diseases, including asthma in humans and animals (18).




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