Sunflowers are native to America and have been widely used for the extraction of cooking oil since ages. Sunflower oil, also known as ‘Surajmukhi tel‘ (Hindi) 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.