Sunflower seed oil or simply sunflower oil is a type of cooking oil that is pressed from the seeds of the sunflower plant. It is a popular cooking oil in Eastern Europe that has been used for decades. However, in the United States, it is only recently gaining attention. Just like other vegetable oils, sunflower oil is also extracted from the seeds. It is available in both refined or neutral-tasting, and cold-pressed or buttery and nutty form.
Sunflowers are native in southwest America, and they were a source of fat for Native Americans, by boiling the seeds to extract the oil. But did you know that sunflower seeds, which contain 35% to 45% fat, are not really seeds at all? Yes, because just like those found in strawberries, they are also small fruits. If you want to know more, then read on because we are going to give you a guide to sunflower seed oil.
History of Sunflower Seed Oil
In the 18th century, sunflower seed oil arrived in Russia via Europe, where it became very popular. They used it as a substitute for lard and butter, both of which were prohibited by the Russian Orthodox Church during Lent. By the 19th century, sunflowers became the major crop in Russia and as well as Ukraine. Up until today, it is still the main cooking oil used in Russia, which is the world’s leading producer of sunflower seed oil.
Sunflower seed oil was dominated by cheaper corn and soybean oils in its native North America. But in the 1970s, Americans who were health-conscious chose to use sunflower seed oil because it contains a high percentage of polyunsaturated fats. They believed that it helped reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
In the 1990s, when people learned about the dangers of trans fats, the producers of potato chips switched to sunflower seed oil all at once, which began a sunflower seed oil renaissance.
Health Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil
Sunflower seed oil is known to be beneficial when it comes to our health. If you are curious, here are some of the health benefits you can get from sunflower seed oil.
- Promotes Heart Health: Sunflower seed oil is among the list of those with less saturated fat and more of the better fats by the American Heart Association. Therefore, you can use sunflower seed oil to replace solid fats in your diet, like butter and margarine. This can help you in preventing heart disease. It can also help lower cholesterol levels and increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol, helping you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Promote Digestion: Based on some sources, sunflower oil might have laxative properties that can help ease digestion.
- May Enhance Oral Health: Sunflower seed oil might also help in reducing plaque-related gingivitis since it exhibits antibacterial activity against the most common cause of infections in people, which is the C. albicans.
- May Help Fight Inflammation: Sunflower seed oil may also help in preventing the gastric damage that most nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs cause. The oil was found to reduce the hostile side effects of the drug when taken with indomethacin, which is an NSAID.
- Can Fight Acne: Aside from mixing sunflower seed oil with foods, it can also be applied to the skin topically because it is known to help boost skin health. It is rich in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant.
- Can Help Treat Eczema: Aside from fighting acne, sunflower seed oil can also aid in the treatment of eczema or atopic dermatitis.
The sunflower seed oil also contains about 13 percent saturated fat, which is greater than grapeseed oil and canola oil. It also has the same amount of saturated fat as corn and olive oil. If you want to take advantage of sunflower seed oil’s vitamin E, you need to find an unrefined one and consume it raw.
Uses of Sunflower Seed Oil in Cooking
Refined sunflower seed oil can be used in place of any neutral vegetable oil that is used in frying, sautéing, searing, and more. For unrefined sunflower oil, you can use it just like extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing and as well as in salad dressing.
The sunflower seed oil has a smoke point that is high enough, making it suitable for frying and other high heat applications. However, just like all unsaturated cooking oils, it is also unstable and may tend to break down with prolonged heating.
You can use sunflower seed oil in a lot of ways, including making mayonnaise. If you want a neutral-flavored mayonnaise, you can try using refined sunflower seed oil. If you are making a salad dressing, you can use an unrefined sunflower seed oil as a vinaigrette for a nuttier flavor than olive oil.
The Best Sunflower Seed Oil for Cooking
If you are looking for high-quality sunflower seed oil for cooking, here are some of the best ones we can recommend:
This is a healthy non-GMO sunflower seed oil that is made without any chemicals, hydrogenation, or other damaging processes. It has a smoke point of up to 450°F. It is processed using physical refining methods, to ensure that the inherent, natural antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E are retained. It does not contain trans fats, so you can enjoy flavorful meals without harmful impacts on your heart, blood sugar, and overall health.
This is a pure sunflower seed oil that is a great option when it comes to low-cholesterol cooking and frying. Aside from cooking, this oil can also be used in cosmetics like skin creams and lip balms. It is premium refined odorless and non-GMO sunflower seed oil. It is 100% pure, as well.
This sunflower seed oil is organic and is formulated to meet all of Whole Foods Market’s stringent quality standards. It is refined expeller-pressed sunflower seed oil that is sodium-free, certified organic, certified vegan, and certified kosher. It is one of the best sunflower seed oils you can use in cooking and food preparation.
This sunflower seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds. It is a high oleic oil that is processed according to strict quality standards. It is higher in monounsaturated fats compared to other regular sunflower seed oils, and lower in both polyunsaturated and saturated fats, making it heart-healthy and an effective butter substitute, as well. It has a high smoke point of 440°F, making it a great choice for high heat cooking.
This sunflower oil is unrefined and cold-pressed, making it great to use for salad dressings and vinaigrettes. It has the smell and taste of real sunflower oil, helping you add a distinctive, but not overwhelming taste to salads, and other meals. Aside from cooking, this sunflower oil can also be used as a massage oil, and also works wonders on razor burn skin irritations.
This sunflower seed oil is 100% pure and high oleic. It also contains natural flavors and vitamin E, making any cuisine taste light and healthy. It is a non-GMO cooking oil that is mechanically pressed and then refined. It has a high-temperature cooking point of up to 450°F, making it ideal for frying, baking, and as well as for salad dressings. It is allergen-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and gluten-free. It is also paleo-friendly, kosher, and contains 0% trans fats.
This sunflower oil is a flavorful, healthy, and versatile cooking oil. You can use it for cooking, baking, grilling, and frying foods. Aside from that, you can also drizzle it over quinoa and roasted pumpkin, melon, flax, chia seeds, and more to make a delicious superfood rich salad. This sunflower seed oil is extracted using the traditional method. This means that it does not contain any toxic chemicals that are usually found in refined oils. Its cold-pressed extraction also preserves all its natural nutrients and antioxidants. It does not contain any cholesterol and trans fats, making it a healthy cooking oil option.
This sunflower oil is 100% pure and has a fantastic aroma. It is first cold-pressed and is non-GMO. It is rich in vitamin E, and is gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and contains 0% trans-fat. It is an ideal cooking oil for frying, baking, dressings, salads, and as well as pastries. It has a maximum smoke point of 437°F. It is also certified kosher.
This one is a high heat, organic, and non-GMO sunflower seed oil that can provide monounsaturated fats. It is best used for high-temperature cooking, sautéing, and baking. It is naturally expeller-pressed, making it free from harmful chemicals for delicate flavor and better-tasting food.
This is an organically certified sunflower seed cooking oil that is non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher. It is an unfiltered and unrefined sunflower oil that maintains the integrity of the sunflower’s flavor. It contains naturally occurring omega fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, and antioxidants that can help in promoting healthier skin. It has a mild, nutty flavor, making it ideal for drizzling over snacks, like yogurt, oatmeal, or granola.
These are some of the best sunflower seed cooking oil we can recommend. If you are looking for a healthier type of cooking oil that you can use for all kinds of cooking methods, then sunflower seed oil is an excellent choice.