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What is Sunflower Oil?

A sunflower.
Sunflower oil is sometimes used in frying food.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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Sunflower oil is a type of vegetable oil that is expressed from oil-type sunflower seeds. It can be used in cooking and cosmetics, and it is especially popular with people who are concerned about the health impacts of oil, because it is a relatively healthy form of vegetable oil. Many stores sell sunflower oil, with several types on the market to choose from, and it is also possible to order specific varieties from manufacturers. People who want to use it in cooking should take care to purchase food grade oil.

The original form was linoleic sunflower oil, which is prone to oxidation. High oleic oil is much more shelf-stable, and generally preferred. In addition to having a longer shelf life, it is also high in vitamin E, and low in saturated fat, making it a healthier choice. Consumers can also choose between refined and unrefined oils, with refined oils being more stable, while unrefined oils have a stronger flavor.

Pure sunflower oil is clear to pale gold in color. In cosmetics, it can be used as a carrier oil. People also use it to condition their skin, since the oil moisturizes without clogging pores, and the neutral scent makes it ideal for skin care. Cooks use sunflower oil for frying, although it can also be used in dressings and other recipes which call for oil. The neutral flavor and scent make it acceptable for use in baking, as well.

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Cooks may want to be aware of the smoking points of sunflower oil. Unrefined oil reaches its smoking point at 440°F (227°C), meaning that it cannot be used above these temperatures. If the oil is allowed to reach the smoking point, it can become rancid, developing a strong and unpleasant flavor. Refined oil can be heated to 450°F (232°C), making it a generally better choice for cooking.

Like all oils, sunflower oil should be stored carefully. Ideally, it should be stored in a dark container under refrigeration. Although refrigeration will thicken the oil, once brought to room temperature, it will quickly warm up. It can also be stored unopened in an opaque container in a cool dry place. Cooks should avoid exposing containers to heat or moisture, as this can cause the oil to become rancid over time.

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anon337993
Post 5

Any PUFA that is heated is ruined. Heated PUFA's are as unhealthy as transfats. Sunflower oil should be kept in a cool, dark place. High Linoleic sunflower should be in a dark bottle, just like virgin olive oil. Avoid high oleic sunflower oil unless you intend to fry in it. High linoleic sunflower oil is 65 percent omega 6. Omega 6 is vital to optimal health.

Most of the articles about omega 6 are negative because they probably used high oleic omega 6 such as canola soy and corn oil. As I stated, heated or treated PUFA's are ruined. The vast majority of store bought items are made from processed oils. You cannot use ruined goods and expect good results. Unfortunately, the experts haven't figured that out. Omega 6 gets panned because their samples were probably ruined.

It is imperative you use unheated, unprocessed sunflower oil. A teaspoon a day is all you need for your omega 6 intake. Before all the processing, there was a lot less cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Processing was done to make more money because untreated oils turn rancid fast; however, that has caused the diseases mentioned above.

goldensky
Post 4

@babylove - Sesame oil is generally not a good substitute because it has a very strong distinctive flavor. Canola or vegetable oils are a much better alternative to peanut oil than sesame oil.

These oils are made for cooking and deep frying whereas sesame oil is more of a flavoring that is added towards the end of the cooking process and a little goes a long way.

babylove
Post 3

Since we're on the subject of cooking oils, I have noticed that a lot of Asian recipes call for either peanut oil or sesame oil. Is it possible to substitute one for the other?

For instance, can I use sesame oil in a vegetable stir-fry when the recipe calls for peanut or some other vegetable oil?

ladyjane
Post 2

@MsClean - Safflower and sunflower oils have many similarities but sunflower oil, as you may know, comes from the seeds of a sunflower. Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of a thistle like flower.

Safflower oil is clear and odorless and is ideal for salads because it does not solidify when cooled. Sunflower oil has more of a clear golden tone but also works well in salads.

They both contain monounsaturated omega-nine fatty acids and are great for cooking or frying under lower temperatures.

MsClean
Post 1

What are the differences between safflower and sunflower oil?

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