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).
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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.
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