Sunflower oil is bad for you. As it’s particularly high in omega-6s, its overconsumption may cause low-grade inflammation, obesity, and other chronic oxidative diseases.
How is sunflower oil made?
There are 2 types of sunflower oils in the market.
The first type is the cold-pressed or extra-virgin sunflower oil. The hulls are removed, and the seeds are broken into smaller pieces. Oil is squeezed out, through pressure. This process doesn’t involve any high heat. But, the cold-pressed method isn’t efficient. It doesn’t remove all oil from the seeds.
On the contrary, the common refined sunflower oil is made by pressing pre-heated seeds. The heat makes oil flow more easily. Furthermore, companies use a solvent named hexane. This chemical increases the amount of oil that can be extracted, leaving no remaining oil in the seeds.
But, this process alters the natural characteristics of the oil. The next step is to heat the oil to remove the chemical taste. Sunflower oil is heated again to comply odor, color, and taste of the final product to the customer’s preferences.
Nutritional value of sunflower oil
The common sunflower oil contains: (1).
- saturates fatty acids: 10% of the fat content
- monounsaturated fatty acids: 19.5% of the fat content
- polyunsaturated fatty acids: 66% of the fat content
Furthermore, sunflower oil has a poor nutritional value. It’s only a good dietary source of vitamin E. A tablespoon of sunflower oil contains about 5.6 mg of vitamin E, or 37% of the Daily Value. Also, it contains traces of vitamin K.
Omega-6s in sunflower oil are bad for your health
Above all, sunflower oil is bad for you because it’s particularly high in omega-6s. Most common sunflower oils are 65% omega-6s (linoleic acid).
Although, we need omega-6s, too much can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune diseases (2,4,7).
People used to consume the same amount of omega-3s and omega-6s. Nowadays, we consume up to 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. This is bad for health.
Not only do we have to limit the consumption of foods high in omega-6s, like sunflower oil, but we also have to start consuming foods with omega-3s. Certain seeds, nuts, avocado, and fish oil, are the richest foods in omega-3s.
Sunflower oil can make you gain weight
Moreover, sunflower olive oil can make you gain weight. It’s the most calorie-dense food. Actually, all vegetable oils are high in calories. They have about 125 calories per tbsp! So, we should eat sunflower oil in moderation.
What’s the healthiest vegetable oil?
Olive oil is much healthier than sunflower oil. First, it’s 80% monounsaturated fatty acids. In fact, monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the heart when consumed in moderation.
Also, olive oil has less omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids than sunflower oil.
Furthermore, olive oil is also a good dietary source of vitamins E.
Most noteworthy, olive oil is particularly rich in polyphenols, which have potent antioxidant properties.
- US Department of Agriculture – Sunflower oil
- NCBI: The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
- Chemometric studies of the effects of milk fat replacement with different proportions of vegetable oils in the formulation of fat-filled milk powders: Implications for quality assurance.
- Omega-6 vegetable oils as a driver of coronary heart disease: the oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis
- NCBI: Effect of the replacement of dietary vegetable oils with a low dose of extra virgin olive oil in the Mediterranean Diet on cognitive functions in the elderly
- Randomized trials of replacing saturated fatty acids with n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary heart disease prevention: Not the gold standard?
- NCBI-PMC: An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity
- NCBI-PMC Sunflower seed allergy
- NCBI-Pubmed.gov: Sunflower oil is not allergenic to sunflower seed-sensitive patients.