Unique features of sunflower oil
Produced from the seeds of sunflowers (helianthus annuus), non-volatile sunflower oil has a light, pleasant taste. It is rich in Omega 6 fats and has the highest levels of Vitamin E of all the vegetable oils. It consists of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, is cholesterol free, which means, its saturated fat levels are low.
Sunflower oil is mostly a triglyceride, which is very important for heart health. It is typically made up of:
- 5% palmitic saturated acid
- 6% stearic saturated acid
- 30% mono-unsaturated omega-9, or oleic acid
- 59% polyunsaturated omega-6, or linoleic acid
Cooks value sunflower oil for its pleasant taste and versatility. It has a high smoke point, which makes it good for cooking and frying. The Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest producers of sunflower oil.
What is sunflower oil used for in products?
Some of the many and varied uses of sunflower oil include:
- In commercially produced salads.
- Fertilizer and animal feed where the crushed seeds, referred to as meal or hulls, which are high in dietary fibre and rich in protein, are used.
- In medicine for constipation and the lowering of LDL cholesterol.
- In home remedies for treating athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.
- Home remedy as an anti-aging mask.
- Used as an emollient in cosmetic manufacture.
- Spray oil for cracker and cookie manufacturing.
- Massage oils and hair treatments.
- Lubricants and lubricating gels
- Sodium soapstock for purification of oils
- Lacquers, resins, and copolymers
- Oil-based and light-tinted paints and coatings
- Acts as a carrier for some pesticides
Products that contain sunflower oil
- Sunflower butter
- Snack foods like potato and corn crisps/chips, pork rinds, French fries, etc.
- Savoury snacks like peanuts, pretzels, etc
- Dried fruit like raisins, prunes, fruit cake mixes
- Vast majority of deep-fried foods
- Polyunsaturated margarine, frying fats and bread spreads
- Oil-based salad dressings, vinaigrettes, sauces and marinades
- Ready meals
- Canned meat and fish products
Types of sunflower oil
Through selective plant breeding and specific industrial processing techniques, four types of sunflower oils are produced. They have different concentrations of fatty acids. The four types are:
- High-stearic in combination with high-oleic
The high-linoleic sunflower oil contains 69% linoleic acid. The high-oleic oil contains 82% oleic acid. Mid-oleic sunflower oil has a 65% concentration of oleic acid. The high-stearic combined with high-oleic contains 18% stearic acid along with 72% oleic acid.
How sunflower oil is made
Sunflower oil is extracted using chemical solvents like hexane, or by cold-pressing, which is a more natural process.
They do not use chemicals in cold-pressing, and it is done at low-temperatures. Cold-pressed oil is referred to as unrefined oil; it is less stable when used for frying at high temperatures.
Oil extracted by chemical extraction is referred to as refined oil. Therefore, it is more stable under high temperatures during cooking than cold-pressed oil.