Sunflower oil – use in the kitchen and health properties

Sunflower oil is one of the most popular vegetable oils in Poland. It is widely believed that it is very healthy, which is why it has found a wide application in the kitchen. Some add it to salads, others use it for frying and baking. Is sunflower oil really healthy? Is it really suitable for frying?

Sunflower oil on a large scale began to produce the English, but its properties and nutritional values ​​were appreciated by the Russians. The Russian Orthodox Church forbade the use of most fats during fasting, and since sunflower oil was not on its list, it quickly gained application in the kitchen. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Russian farmers already had more than two million acres of land sown with sunflower seeds, from which grains of oil are pressed. Currently, sunflower oil is used not only for food, but also in cosmetics (eg for hair oiling) and natural medicine (eg for mouth rinsing with oil).


You should read it: What oil is the healthiest for frying?


Sunflower refined and unrefined sunflower oil

Sunflower oil can be refined (hot pressed), i.e. subjected to high temperature and chemical substances, or unrefined (cold pressed), i.e. obtained only as a result of machining. These oils differ in nutrient content. There are many more in unrefined oils. This is especially true for beta-carotene – a yellow dye. This is why cold pressed sunflower oil has a dark yellow color, and this refined – light yellow. In addition, refined sunflower oil has a slightly palpable taste, and in the case of cold pressed seed oil, this flavor is much more pronounced. Another difference is the smell – unrefined sunflower oil has a much more intense odor than the oil subjected to high temperature.

Sunflower oil – an unfavorable ratio of omega-6 and omega-3

Sunflower oil is characterized by a high content of fatty acids from the omega-6 group (55.9 percent) and the negligible presence of acids from the omega-3 family (0.5 percent). These are unfavorable proportions. The correct ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 – should be 15 (n3n6).

One tablespoon of sunflower oil covers the daily demand for omega-6 fatty acids.

Too much omega-6 in the diet increases inflammation in the body and can lead to the development of many diseases – depression or heart disease. For this reason, it is recommended to limit the intake of sunflower oil or replace it with a healthier one, such as rapeseed oil or omega-3 oil rich in linseed oil. Also, do not combine sunflower oil with products rich in omega-3, such as oily fish, because in this way you will disrupt the beneficial effects of omega-3.


Check: Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids families

Sunflower oil – a wealth of vitamin E

Sunflower oil on the background of other oils is distinguished by the highest content of vitamin E. In 100 g there are up to 38.70 mg of vitamin of youth and fertility.

Only unrefined rapeseed oil is rich in vitamins.

In terms of its content, sunflower oil surpasses even rapeseed oil, which is considered the healthiest. In rapeseed oil, it is almost two times less, because it is 18.90 mg, vitamin E. It is therefore ranked second in the ranking of oils rich in this valuable compound. The third one is soybean oil (10.50 mg / 100 g).

Sunflower oil – the treasury of phytosterols

Just like sunflower seeds, sunflower oil is one of the best sources of phytosterols (325 mg / 100 g). Many years of research prove that a diet rich in these compounds lowers cholesterol. Daily consumption of phytosterols prevents the development of atherosclerotic lesions in the blood vessels. However, it should be remembered that phytosterols have a positive effect on health when consumed in a dose of no more than 3 g per day. This is another argument for not overdoing the amount of sunflower oil in your diet.

Sunflower oil – use in the kitchen. Is it suitable for frying?

Sunflower oil is recommended to be used cold, eg for salads, making mayonnaise.

Due to the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are very susceptible to high temperature and under its influence, they quickly break down into dangerous substances (also those that are carcinogenic). The temperature at which sunflower oil begins to decompose into harmful compounds is low and amounts to 100 deg. C (specialists call this a low point of smoke). This group of oils also includes soybean oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil.

The most resistant to high temperatures are saturated fatty acids, however, due to their harmful effect on health, it is better to eliminate them from the diet. In the second place are monounsaturated fatty acids and it is the oils with a predominance of these fatty acids that is recommended to be used for frying. These are, for example, rapeseed oil and olive oil. Remember that cold pressed oils should not be used for frying, but those that are refined (have a higher smoke point).

 Sunflower oil – how to store?

Cold pressed sunflower oil should be stored in a glass bottle in a dark place at a temperature of 5-10 degrees Celsius, and therefore preferably in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. Refined oil can be stored in a kitchen cupboard. The cold pressed oil is usually about 3-6 months long, the refined one a little longer. Refining allows you to eliminate the so-called oxidation catalysts. As a result, the oil can be stored longer.


You can read also: The role and qualities of fat in the diet


OMEGA-3 acids – an exceptional building block for our cells

Omega-3 acids help prevent diseases, preserve youth and improve mood. Thanks to the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids, you will avoid, for example, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies or heart disease Omega-3 acids are necessary especially for pregnant and small women check what properties omega-3 acids have.

Omega-3 acids are an exceptional building block of our cells, thanks to which the cell membrane works better, and it improves all life processes.” It is impossible to calculate all the benefits that omega-3 fatty acids give us. Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the group of essential unsaturated fatty acids (EFA), specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids, and we distinguish two omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 includes linoleic acid (ALA), which is a substrate for the production of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and its recommended intake is 0.5%.


Omega-3 acids can protect against cancer

Omega-3 acids can protect against the development of cancer, but those from fish are more effective (even eight times) than those from plants – convince scientists from the Canadian University of Guelph in the” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry “.

The study was carried out on mice, rodents being a model of particularly aggressive form of HER-2 breast cancer, which afflicts 25% of women, received three types of omega 3 acids.

It turned out that the exposure to omega 3 acids, which come from fish, translated into a reduction in tumor size by 60-70% and a 30% lower risk of metastases. To achieve the same result, it was necessary to increase the dose of acids omega 3 of vegetable origin.


Omega-3 acids help brain work

Whether we systematically supplement the omega-3 levels, the effectiveness of thinking, understanding, memorizing and even creativity throughout our lives depends largely on the people who eat a lot of fish, in older age they are distinguished by their mental sharpness, and less frequently for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

They affect the formation and work of the brain, from the onset of fetal life.” It turns out that a woman who consumes the right amount of omega-3 during pregnancy generates a smarter and bigger child Omega-3 fatty acids improve the brain’s blood supply and improve the flow of nerve impulses between gray and white matter, therefore children who consume the right amount of omega-3 acids develop better, have no problems concentrating and are more efficiently motivated.


Omega-3 acids improve eyesight

Omega-3 acids are a component of the retina, and their deficiency in the mother’s diet threatens retinopathy of premature babies (this condition can even lead to complete loss of vision.) Children who do not eat fish are usually more susceptible to vision defects and see worse. omega-3 in old age may be the reason for macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness in adults.



The right ratio Omega 3 and 6 is the foundation!

To be healthy, we need omega-3 and omega-6 in the right proportions.The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 should be 15 or 16. Unfortunately, the diet of the average Pole does not meet such requirements.Why?We eat too much vegetable fats, a source of omega-6, and not enough fish, rich in omega-3.Meanwhile, an excess of omega-6 destroys the beneficial effects of omega-3.


Omega-3 acids support the work of the heart

Studies show that eating more than one fish meal per week reduces the risk of death from heart disease by more than 50% (compared to people who do not eat fish at all or only eat once a month).

In the case of people who have had a heart attack, this risk decreases by 42%.” Omega-3 acids counteract arrhythmias, which is why people with high blood levels die less than twice those who lack these acids (sudden arrhythmia when infarcts are life-threatening).


Omega-3 have the ability to thin the blood and prevent the blood cells from sticking to damaged vessel walls, preventing clots and congestion.

They also counteract inflammatory processes in the arteries leading to their sclerosis, lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise the level of good (HDL), reducing the rate of atherosclerosis.


Omega-3 acids strengthen bones

We need omega-3 acids to have healthy bones, protect against arthritis, relieve pain and stiffness associated with rheumatic diseases, and facilitate the absorption of calcium, which is why they are irreplaceable in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.


Omega-3 acids for allergies and resistance

Recent studies confirm that omega-3s prevent and treat allergies and increase the body’s natural immunity.

There are many indications that women who eat a lot of fish are less exposed to breast and uterine cancer and men to prostate cancer. Both sexes are less likely to have pancreatic cancer.


Worth knowing

Omega-3 acids – dosage

EPA and DHA, due to the multidirectional positive effects on the human body proved in clinical studies, have been included in the dietary recommendations constructed by various global organizations.

EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) 2010

– Adults – 250 mg / day EPA / DHA

– Pregnant / lactating – 250 mg EPA + DHA / day + 100-200 mg DHA

ISSFAL (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids) 2004

– 500 mg / day EPA / DHA recommended for adults in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases

AHA (American Heart Association) 2002

– Two portions of fatty fish per week – for general health

– 1000 mg / day ω-3 EPA / DHA – patients with heart disease

– 2000 to 4000 mg / day ω-3 EPA / DHA – patients with hypertriglyceridemia

USDA (US Dept of Agriculture) and HHS (Department of Health and Human Services)

– General population – about 8 portions a week of various seafood, providing on average 250 mg of EPA and DHA per day

– Pregnant and lactating women – at least 8-12 servings of various seafood, with the lowest mercury content

Acids in Human Nutrition 2010

– Adults – 250 mg / day EPA / DHA

– Pregnant and breastfeeding women – 300 mg / day EPA / DHA, of which 200 mg / day should be DHA


Omega-3 acids important in pregnancy

Due to the special influence of omega-3 on fetal development and its good health in later life, Polish experts recommend omega-3 administration to pregnant women and children from the age of 6. Why? Because pregnant women and children up to 7 should mean that they only have to choose those that do not come from breeding and do not contain heavy metals (they are more than others exposed to lead poisoning.) Because it is difficult to check where the fish comes from and why what’s in it  “sitting “, better to reach for tran.


Omega 3 acids are primarily found in the:


crustaceans, e.g. shrimps




vegetable oils (linseed oil, peanut oil and rapeseed oil)


A valuable source, both Omega 3 and Omega 6, are high quality soft margarines, whose main ingredient are vegetable oils.

It should be remembered that EFAs are destroyed during heating, so Omega 3 and Omega 6 perform their functions when they are not frying.


Worth knowing

Features of good omega-3.How do you choose omega-3 acids to be of good quality?
  1. From small fish

Omega-3 acids should be obtained from small fish, because because of their short life they accumulate much less heavy metals than large fish.

  1. Certified places of fishing

The recommended places for fishing are the seas of the southern hemisphere, where lower intensity of industry means less pollution in water.Certified reservoirs in the South Pacific are an optimal source of omega-3 acids.

  1. Short production time

Due to the ease with which fish oil may be subject to unfavorable oxidation processes, i.e. rancidity, the conditions of production and the time which passes from the moment of fishing to oil acquisition are important.It is best when it is less than 36 hours from fishing to the production of fish oil.

  1. Crystal clear oil color

The brighter the oil color, the higher the quality of the product, which indicates that it is not rancid, and as a result “does not bounce off the fish”.To measure the color of the oil, Gardner’s 18-degree scale is used and the lower the scale, the fresher the oil, the better its quality.

  1. A delicate taste and smell

Fish oil should have a delicate fresh smell – oil that smells too much with ‘fish’ may indicate rancidity and low quality of the raw material.The content of oxidized omega-3 acids is measured by the TOTOX value (total oxidation).The maximum limit is 28 and the lower the value on this scale, the less oxidized omega-3 contains oil.You will see the physical properties with the naked eye and feel the product trying.

  1. The natural form of omega-3

Omega-3 acids contained in the product should be in the form of triglycerides (TG), in the form as in fish, which is better absorbed.Fatty acids in the form of ethyl esters (EE) are less well absorbed.

  1. Certificates and tests

Omega-3 acid should have the certificates of recognized organizations setting standards for the quality assessment of omega-3 acids, e.g. GOED.