11 Amazing Benefits of Sunflower Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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The health benefits of sunflower oil include its ability to improve heart health, boost energy, strengthen the immune system, improve skin health, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, protect against asthma, and reduce inflammation.

What is Sunflower Oil?

Sunflower oil is a non-volatile oil that can be easily extracted from sunflowers. Although most people are already familiar with sunflowers as plants, they don’t immediately think of sunflowers as sources of extremely healthy vegetable oil. This oil can replace some of the less healthy cooking oils on the market. Sunflower oil can also be used in certain cosmetic applications. The main producers of sunflower oil include Russia, Ukraine, and Argentina, but it is used throughout the world in the preparation of various cuisines.

Sunflower oil has many uses, including the following:

  • Used in cooking and frying
  • Used in cosmetics like lip balms and skin creams
  • Used as a medicine for the heart as it is low cholesterol

Nutrition Facts

Oil, sunflower, linoleic, (partially hydrogenated)
Serving Size :
Water [g]0
Energy [kcal]884
Protein [g]0
Total lipid (fat) [g]100
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]0
Fiber, total dietary [g]0
Sugars, total [g]0
Calcium, Ca [mg]0
Iron, Fe [mg]0
Magnesium, Mg [mg]0
Phosphorus, P [mg]0
Potassium, K [mg]0
Sodium, Na [mg]0
Zinc, Zn [mg]0
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0
Riboflavin [mg]0
Niacin [mg]0
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0
Folate, DFE [µg]0
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]41.08
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]5.4
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]13
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]46.2
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]36.4
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Sunflower Oil Nutrition

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, sunflower oil contains predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

One of the primary reasons for the growing popularity of sunflower oil is its impressive fatty acid content, which includes palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, lecithin, carotenoids, selenium, and linoleic acid. The combination of fatty acids in the body are extremely important to maintain various elements of human health, and sunflower oil can help maintain that balance.

Furthermore, some of those fatty acids, vitamin E (tocopherols) and other organic compounds, act as antioxidants in sunflower oil, which means that they can positively affect a huge range of conditions. Sunflower oil also has more polyunsaturated fats than any other commonly used vegetable oil. With the recent craze of eating healthy and searching for alternative options, sunflower oil is becoming quite desirable on the international market.

Health Benefits of Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil has a fascinating array of health benefits. Let’s explore them in detail.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

A number of studies, including one published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, boasts the benefits of sunflower oil on cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are present in sunflower seeds, a compound which–as it is a similar structure to cholesterol–battles cholesterol for absorption in the bloodstream. As it often wins out, it ultimately results in overall lower amounts of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Relief from Athlete’s Foot

Sunflower oil is also an effective remedy for providing relief from Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that starts between the toes. The topical application of sunflower oil helps in curing it faster.

Improves Immune System

In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry, researchers from Spain confirmed that sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant in the body. It has been directly connected to boosting your immune system.

Skin Care

Sunflower oil, rich in vitamin E, is considered by many to be important in improving skin health and regenerating cells. This means your skin is better protected against damage from the sun, as well as the natural degradation that comes with age and occurs when free radicals are present in the body. Why? Antioxidants, like vitamin E, neutralize free radicals, keeping them from destroying or damaging healthy cells. You can see an increased reduction in scars, quicker wound healing, and a healthier natural glow to your skin. This is a major reason why sunflower oil is commonly used in cosmetic applications.

Some people use sunflower oil for massaging premature infants having low birth weight or other complications. In folk medicine, this process is thought to effectively lower the chances of developing skin infections. Since their organs (including their skin) are in an underdeveloped stage, this oil acts as a protective barrier. However, sufficient scientific literature is not available on this benefit of sunflower oil.

Boosts Energy Levels

The fatty acid content in sunflower oil is connected to energy levels in the body. Saturated fats can make you feel sluggish, while unsaturated fats, of which sunflower oil has many, can keep you feeling energized and satiated for much longer.

Anticancer Potential

As mentioned above, sunflower oil is rich in antioxidants and substances that act as antioxidants. Vitamin E, which has a group of compounds known as tocopherols, is a powerful antioxidant that can eliminate free radicals before they can mutate healthy cells into cancerous cells. There are a number of ongoing research studies to verify its effects on a wider variety of cancers – stay tuned for upcoming research on the subject.

Reduces Inflammation

Asthma affects millions of people around the world, and this respiratory condition can range from mild to life-threatening. Sunflower oil has been positively correlated with a lower amount and severity of asthma attacks because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, which are derived from its vitamin content, as well as the beneficial fatty acids it contains. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined this and showed a promising impact between these anti-inflammatory properties and the reduction of respiratory conditions.

Protects Body

The fatty acids have a significant effect on the general immune system and increase the body’s ability to resist attacks by infection, says Dr. Parveen Yaqoob of the University of Reading. Sunflower oil is a rich source of fatty acids, which protects the skin by strengthening the membrane barriers, thereby making it harder for bacteria and viruses to enter the body.

Sunflower oil is highly recommended for infants because it can protect them from infections, particularly when they are born premature and are highly susceptible to them. This same benefit is extended to adults who use the oil as well, although the effects are not quite as dramatic on them.

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle and chronic levels of stress, along with commonly tedious professional lives, we hardly have time to check and consume nutritious foods, but by using sunflower oil in our kitchens we can at least improve the quality of cooking.

A fatty diet, fast food, and a lack of exercise have the possibility of resulting in obesity. The generational trend is moving fast towards foods and meals with unhealthy ingredients that can have a lasting impact on your health. Many of these foods don’t provide any protein, vitamins, or essential nutrients.

Word of Caution: Although the fatty acids in sunflower oil are important and essential in our diet, sunflower oil does have higher omega-6 content than most other vegetable oils.

If sunflower oil is eaten in excess, without the intention of boosting the omega-3 intake, it can result in an imbalance of fatty acids in the body, which is dangerous. A 2018 study also shows its adverse effects on the liver.

As long as you monitor how your body is responding and how you feel, sunflower oil can be a beneficial addition to your diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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