Sunflowers are native to America and have been widely used for the extraction of cooking oil since ages. Sunflower oil is a non-volatile oil extracted from the seeds of sunflowers. It is commonly used as a cooking oil as well as in cosmetic formulations due to its emollient properties. Here you will learn many benefits of sunflower oil and its nutrition value.
Is sunflower oil healthy? Its nutritious composition makes it one of the healthiest oils for consumption as well as application on the skin and the hair. The main component of sunflower oil is linoleic acid. Its other components include oleic acid and palmitic acid. In addition to these, it contains lecithin, carotenoids, tocopherols and appreciable quantities of vitamins A, D and E.
Sunflower Seeds And Oil:
There are basically two types of sunflower seeds – confection sunflower seeds and non-oil sunflower seeds. Confection sunflower seeds are edible and are used for the extraction of oil whereas non-oil sunflower seeds are used for feeding animals and are not suitable for human consumption. Sunflower seed oil is extracted from the black seeds as well as the entire flower.
The cold pressed sunflower oil is amber in colour with a mild and pleasant taste. Refined oil is pale yellow in colour. Being extremely light with a high content of polyunsaturated fat, sunflower oil is often preferred over other oils like canola, safflower, corn and olive oils for cooking purposes. Its excellent smoothening properties and long shelf life make it ideal for cosmetic preparations.
Benefits Of Sunflower Oil:
The sunflower oil benefits are surplus. Let’s have a look at its amazing benefits of refined sunflower oil for skin, hair and health:
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 the benefits of sunflower oil for health are given below.
1. Cardiovascular Benefits:
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.
2. Prevents Arthritis:
Sunflower oil is the ultimate solution for those having worries about developing arthritis. Sunflower oil helps in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Prevention of Asthma And Colon Cancer:
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.
4. Prevention Of Other Cancers:
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.
5. Lowers Cholesterol:
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.
6. Fights Free Radicals:
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.
7. Repairs The Body:
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.
8. Prevention Of Infant Infection:
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.
9. Healthy Nervous System:
The Vitamin B content of sunflower oil promotes a healthy nervous system, proper digestion and is a great source of energy.
10. Reduction Of Cardiac Problems:
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.
Skin Benefits Of Sunflower Oil:
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.
11. Effective Moisturizing Agent:
Due to its emollient properties, sunflower oil helps the skin retain its moisture. Using sunflower oil as a lotion on the skin of pre-term infants acts as a protective barrier and massaging them with this oil helps in reducing skin infection by nearly 14 percent. Hence, sunflower oil can be used in their daily skincare.
12. Improves Skin Health:
Sunflower oil is extremely high in Vitamin E in comparison to other skincare products like almond oil or shea butter. Vitamin E is essential for preventing damage to the skin cells by the ultraviolet light or UVA from the sun. Vitamin E improves the appearance and health of your skin by preventing scarring and smoothing of existing wrinkles.
13. Sunflower Oil For Acne:
Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A, C and D and healthy carotenoids and waxes which form a protective barrier on the skin. Thus, this oil is effective in the treatment of acne. Being exceptionally light and non-greasy, it gets absorbed into the skin easily, without clogging or blocking the pores. Its range of vitamins and fatty acids act as antioxidants to regenerate the skin cells and help the skin get rid of acne causing bacteria.
14. Rich in Beta-Carotene:
Beta-carotene is a richly pigmented, fat-soluble compound that can be converted into Vitamin A and its antioxidant properties are beneficial for the appearance of your health and skin. Sunflower oil is an excellent source of beta-carotene. Consumption of this compound makes your skin less sensitive to the sun. The antioxidants in it neutralize the free radicals that penetrate your skin, causing sunburn and other types of sun damage such as skin cancer.
15. Reduces Premature Signs Of Aging:
The antioxidant properties of sunflower oil help in preventing premature signs of aging. The exposure to free radicals and sunlight increases the rate of aging of skin, causing the occurrence of wrinkles and fine lines at an early age. The antioxidants in sunflower oil lower the risk of developing premature signs of aging.
16. Treats Dry Skin:
Being naturally emollient, sunflower oil improves your skin’s moisture retention capacity and is beneficial for individuals with dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. A mixture of sunflower and castor oil is effective in making your skin supple and removing dead cells and impurities. This mixture can be used as a cleanser and there is no need to use a moisturizer as the oils contain fatty acids and vitamins to moisturize your skin.
17. Treats Skin Conditions:
Sunflower seed oil is an oil of a fine quality as it is light in texture and extremely suitable for eye and skin care. It is suitable for normal to dry skin and is increasingly used in aromatherapy because of its mild scent and light texture. It is used in skin products and creates a soft feel on the skin.
Hair Benefits Of Sunflower Oil:
Just like the skin, sunflower oil has a moisturizing effect on your hair as well. A wide array of nutrients and antioxidants together with essential fatty acids make it extremely beneficial for your hair. Following are the benefits of sunflower oil for hair.
18. Controls Frizzy Hair:
Due to its light texture and mild flavor, sunflower oil softens the hair and adds a delightful sheen to it. Sunflower seed oil helps to control frizz, tackles dryness and damage and makes your hair manageable. This versatile oil maintains your hair’s luster and texture and can be used as a natural conditioner. Sunflower oil can be applied and massaged on your scalp before a bath once a week for maximum benefits.
19. Conditions Hair:
Being extremely light, sunflower oil helps in conditioning greasy hair. It nourishes the hair and prevents breakage.
20. Prevents Thinning Of Hair:
Sunflower oil is an important source of gamma alpha linolenic acid (GLA) which helps in preventing thinning of hair. It is effective in the treatment of hair-loss, baldness and alopecia areata, characterized by round patches of lost hair.
There are basically three varieties of sunflower oil with different combinations of fatty acids. These are linoleic, high oleic and NuSun. The difference in the three varieties can be attributed to the different percentages of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats. All of these are low in saturated fats and thus, extremely nutritious. The nutritional profile of sunflower oil is explained below.
Fats: Sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and high in healthier, unsaturated fats. Linoleic sunflower oil has a high content of polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-6 fatty acids that are involved in processes such as building strong hair and healing wounds. High oleic sunflower oil mostly comprises of monounsaturated fat omega-9 that is helpful for preserving memory, preventing cancer and reducing the blood pressure. NuSun, being a combination of oleic and linoleic oils, can withstand extremely high cooking temperatures and does not form trans-fats.
Low Cholesterol: Studies have proved that the consumption of sunflower oil can result in lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol and thus, provides protection from heart sunflower oil benefitsdisease. Thus, it can be used as a substitute for saturated fats for reducing unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Antioxidants And Phytochemicals: Antioxidants and phytochemicals provide protection against diseases by fighting the free radicals. Sunflower oil comprises of a variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals such as Vitamin E, betaine, phenolic acid, choline arginine and lignans. These have the capability to fight against cancers, boost memory and promote cardiovascular health. High levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals make sunflower oil an excellent option for boosting the nutrient content of foods that are cooked or baked in it.
Due to its wide range of benefits for health, skin and hair, sunflower oil is considered as one of the healthiest oils and is generally preferred over other heavier oils like coconut, almond, safflower and olive oils. However, to reap its benefits, it is advisable to consume it in small quantities as it has some associated side effects.
Consuming high quantities of this oil might increase insulin or blood sugar and increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) in people with type 2 diabetes. Due to its high content of omega-6 fatty acids, excess consumption is likely to cause breast and prostate cancer in post-menopausal women. Therefore, appropriate dose of this oil should be taken after considering factors such as age, health and other conditions. It is advisable to consult a physician before using such natural products.