Sunflowers are native to America and have been widely used for the extraction of cooking oil since ages. Sunflower oil is a non-volatile oil extracted from the seeds of sunflowers. It is commonly used as a cooking oil as well as in cosmetic formulations due to its emollient properties.
Its nutritious composition makes it one of the healthiest oils for consumption as well as application on the skin and the hair. The main component of sunflower oil is linoleic acid. Its other components include oleic acid and palmitic acid. In addition to these, it contains lecithin, carotenoids, tocopherols and appreciable quantities of vitamins A, D and E.
Sunflower Seeds And Oil:
There are basically two types of sunflower seeds – confection sunflower seeds and non-oil sunflower seeds. Confection sunflower seeds are edible and are used for the extraction of oil whereas non-oil sunflower seeds are used for feeding animals and are not suitable for human consumption. Sunflower seed oil is extracted from the black seeds as well as the entire flower.
The expressed sunflower oil is amber in colour with a mild and pleasant taste. Refined oil is pale yellow in colour. Being extremely light with a high content of polyunsaturated fat, sunflower oil is often preferred over other oils like canola, safflower, corn and olive oils for cooking purposes. Its excellent smoothening properties and long shelf life make it ideal for cosmetic preparations.
Sunflower Oil Benefits:
The benefits of sunflower oil are surplus. Let’s have a look at its amazing benefits for the skin, hair and health:
Health Benefits Of Sunflower Oil:
Sunflower oil has a large number of benefits that help in keeping the body healthy and strong. Though it is included in the list of high fat items, it is gaining popularity as a cooking oil due to its wide variety of health-enhancing nutrients. The perfect balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats makes it perfect for reducing the levels of bad cholesterol. Thus, more and more people are incorporating it in their diet. Some of its health benefits are given below.
1. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Sunflower oil is rich in Vitamin E and low in saturated fat. Besides, it is rich in certain phytochemicals like choline and phenolic acid that are beneficial for your heart. It also contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats along with vitamins that makes it one of the healthiest oils for consumption. High oleic sunflower oils contain 80% or more monounsaturated fats. Thus, sunflower oil helps in lowering cardiovascular diseases and chance of heart attack.
2. Prevents Arthritis:
Sunflower oil is the ultimate solution for those having worries about developing arthritis. Sunflower oil helps in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Prevention of Asthma And Colon Cancer:
4. Prevention Of Other Cancers:
The carotenoids found in sunflower oil help in the prevention of uterine, lung and skin cancers. In addition, they provide a good source of Vitamin A and aid in preventing cataracts.
5. Lowers Cholesterol:
The saturated fats found in other oils are difficult to break down completely during metabolism. Consequently, they are carried to different parts of the body by the blood and get deposited, thus increasing the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels. This causes health problems like embolism, atherosclerosis, joint pains and birth defects.
Sunflower oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which provide energy besides maintaining an ideal LDL/HDL (good cholesterol) ratio in the body. Sunflower oil also contains lecithin which helps in lowering cholesterol level. This is because it sticks to your nerve and cell linings, thus preventing fat and cholesterol from sticking to the cell.
6. Fights Free Radicals:
Sunflower oil acts as an antioxidant as it is rich in Vitamin E or tocopherols that help in neutralizing the cancer-causing free radicals. The free radicals damage the cells and the immune system.
7. Repairs The Body:
Sunflower oil also contains proteins, which are vital for building and repairing tissues and the production of hormones and enzymes. Our body requires high amounts of proteins. Since the body does not store proteins, they have to be consumed, and sunflower oil fulfils this requirement.
8. Prevention Of Infant Infection:
Sunflower oil is useful in reducing the risk of infection in pre-term infants having low birth weight. The infants are more likely to suffer from infections because of underdeveloped immune system and organs such as the skin. Sunflower oil acts as a protective barrier and prevents such infection.
9. Healthy Nervous System:
The Vitamin B content of sunflower oil promotes a healthy nervous system, proper digestion and is a great source of energy.
10. Reduction Of Cardiac Problems:
Sunflower oil contains selenium that is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiac problems and hepatic degradation. A high level of selenium in your blood is also instrumental in reducing the risk of lung and skin cancers.
Folate or folic acid found in sunflower oil helps in the manufacture of new cells. Magnesium prevents muscle cramps whereas tryptophan relaxes the brain and promotes sleep by aiding in the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Skin Benefits Of Sunflower Oil:
Sunflower oil is a natural and healthy way of maintaining a great skin, thanks to its calming and emollient (moisturizing) properties. Being rich in nutrients and antioxidants, it is widely used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and is found to be effective against acne, eczema, inflammation, general redness and irritation of the skin. Some of the benefits of sunflower oil for the skin are as follows.
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11. Due to its emollient properties, sunflower oil helps the skin retain its moisture. Using sunflower oil as a lotion on the skin of pre-term infants acts as a protective barrier and massaging them with this oil helps in reducing skin infection by nearly 14 percent. Hence, sunflower oil can be used in their daily skincare.
12. Sunflower oil is extremely high in Vitamin E in comparison to other skincare products like almond oil or shea butter. Vitamin E is essential for preventing damage to the skin cells by the ultraviolet light or UVA from the sun. Vitamin E improves the appearance and health of your skin by preventing scarring and smoothing of existing wrinkles.
13. Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins A, C and D and healthy carotenoids and waxes which form a protective barrier on the skin. Thus, this oil is effective in the treatment of acne. Being exceptionally light and non-greasy, it gets absorbed into the skin easily, without clogging or blocking the pores. Its range of vitamins and fatty acids act as antioxidants to regenerate the skin cells and help the skin get rid of acne causing bacteria.
14. Beta-carotene is a richly pigmented, fat-soluble compound that can be converted into Vitamin A and its antioxidant properties are beneficial for the appearance of your health and skin. Sunflower oil is an excellent source of beta-carotene. Consumption of this compound makes your skin less sensitive to the sun. The antioxidants in it neutralize the free radicals that penetrate your skin, causing sunburn and other types of sun damage such as skin cancer.
15. The antioxidant properties of sunflower oil help in preventing premature signs of aging. The exposure to free radicals and sunlight increases the rate of aging of skin, causing the occurrence of wrinkles and fine lines at an early age. The antioxidants in sunflower oil lower the risk of developing premature signs of aging.
16. Being naturally emollient, sunflower oil improves your skin’s moisture retention capacity and is beneficial for individuals with dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. A mixture of sunflower and castor oil is effective in making your skin supple and removing dead cells and impurities. This mixture can be used as a cleanser and there is no need to use a moisturizer as the oils contain fatty acids and vitamins to moisturize your skin.
17. Sunflower seed oil is an oil of a fine quality as it is light in texture and extremely suitable for eye and skin care. It is suitable for normal to dry skin and is increasingly used in aromatherapy because of its mild scent and light texture. It is used in skin products and creates a soft feel on the skin.
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