The Top 5 Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil
Vibrant sunflowers could brighten anyone’s day.
But did you know that the seeds in those big, bright flowers are packed with goodness and health boosting properties? Many of those properties are found in the seeds’ oil too, making it an easy way to get the benefits of sunflower in your diet.
Sunflower oil is pressed from the seeds and is liquid at room temperature. It’s a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, mostly omega-6s and -9s and has a lot of vitamin E. If you want to know more about omega fatty acids and what they can do for your health, check out this blog post.
What are the health benefits of sunflower oil?
Enjoying high-quality unrefined sunflower oil has a lot of benefits, but we’ve made a list of our five favorites.
Top 5 Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil
1. This oil improves heart health and lowers cholesterol: Eating high-quality oils that contain omega-6s and -9s can help you get the right balance of omega fatty acids.
You may have heard that omega-6 fatty acids are to be avoided, but that’s not the whole truth. The modern western diet typically contains too much omega-6, which can pose problems. This is especially true because they are usually coming from processed food sources.
Find ways to cut out unhealthy sources of omega–6 (like packaged cookies and crackers) and then bring a healthy source (i.e. sunflower oil) into your diet to ensure that you are getting this essential fatty acid.
OrganicFacts.net explains the fatty acid make-up of sunflower oil: “The balance of fatty acids found in sunflower oil, including a good amount of linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) is very good. Although omega-6 fatty acids are typically considered “bad” cholesterol, they are still essential in the body. The problem is, most people have too many! Finding a healthy balance of good cholesterol (omega-3s) and bad cholesterol is very important. Furthermore, sunflower oil doesn’t contain any saturated fats, which means that it can actually reduce your overall cholesterol content in the body.”
2. It strengthens your immune system: Sunflower seeds and their oil are full of antioxidants, like vitamin E and tocopherols, that help fight off free radicals. This, in turn, allows your immune system to function as it’s supposed to, supporting your overall health and improving your ability to fight off colds and other illnesses.
3. Sunflower boosts energy: Saturated fats can make you sluggish. Sunflower seed oil is high in healthy, unsaturated fats which support your body’s energy production.
It’s important to eat fats in moderation, as they do contain more calories than other nutrients. Fat is fuel for your body and your brain, you just need the right kinds.
4. Sunflower oil improves skin clarity and moisturizes dry skin: It’s rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, good for fighting off free radicals.
The antioxidants in beta carotene can penetrate into the skin and help neutralize free radicals that produce sunburn, as well as other forms of sun damage. The antioxidant properties will help prevent early signs of aging. Exposure to the sun and free radicals increase the speed of skin aging that causes fine lines and wrinkles.”
This helps skin stay clear and bright. Sunflower oil can be used topically to improve dry skin and treat skin irritations. It’s one of the main reasons why cosmetic companies are increasingly marketing sunflower oil as an ingredient in their products.
5. It reduces inflammation: Sunflower seeds contain tryptophan, which can work to numb pain, which is why sunflower oil can be used as a mild pain reliever. It also contains methionine, which works to relieve your pain at the source.
The Herbal Country Doctor has more on how that works: “Methionine is an essential amino acid your body uses to manufacture S-adenosylmethionine, among other things. SAM is purported to be as effective as some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, for controlling inflammation.”
‘Cooking’ with Sunflower Oil
If sunflower oil is refined its smoke point is 450℉, so it can be used for cooking. Refining oil removes much of the nutrition, though, so you can’t expect benefits from refined oil whether it’s been heated or not.
If the oil is unrefined it has a much lower smoke point — just 225℉. That means that it will burn if it reaches that temperature, making it unhealthy to eat.
You should only use unrefined sunflower oil cold, in salad dressings, drizzled over cooked foods, added to dips or taken straight off the spoon. It’s important to remember that omega–6s tend to be over-represented in the Western diet, so sunflower oil is best enjoyed in moderation.
Many people don’t know what to do with sunflower oil in the kitchen when you tell them not to heat it. There are a lot of great options, though.
A girl called jack loves “the lightness of sunflower oil for making pestos and marinades and sauces, in that it takes on the flavours of the ingredients it is mixed in, lubricating and emulsifying without taking centre stage.” We decided to test this theory out…and let me tell you, the results were delicious. Check out our Sunny Pesto recipe video, here.
My 2 Favorite Uses for Sunflower Oil:
Oil Pulling: This is so good for your oral health. Check out my recent post on oil pulling to learn how and why, here.
Salad Dressings: Making your own vinaigrette is a wonderful way to get healthy oils into your diet. Try mixing one part oil, one part vinegar, a dash of lemon juice, sea salt & your favorite fresh herb! For more salad dressing ideas, check out our recipes in the Activation Kitchen.
Perfect Press® Five Seed Blend
Sunflower seed oil is one of the five nutritious oils that we’ve combined into a powerful mix that we call Perfect Press® Five Seed Blend. This one bottle contains a fusion that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a great way to maximize benefits; adding it to your routine will help you round out your diet without overwhelming yourself…or your counter space!
Our special pressing process ensures that there is no damage to our oils. After pressing we store them in UV-protective Miron glass bottles to keep them fresh and nutritious. Perfect Press® Five Seed Blend and Perfect Press® Sunflower Oil are great additions to smoothies, dips and salad dressings.
Our Top 6 Ways to Use Sunflower Oil
Share this post for the free infographic