7 Amazing Benefits Of Sunflower Oil, Nutrition, & Side Effects

Grab all the amazing health advantages that this effective edible oil has to offer.

Medically reviewed by Ionut IgnatIonut Ignat, RDN
By Ravi Teja TadimallaRavi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health  • 

Sunflower oil, or sunflower seed oil, is rich in vitamin E (1). It is gold in color, light, and offers certain important benefits. It is low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats (the healthy fats). Some sources state that this oil was first used by the American Indian tribes way back in 3000 BC. We don’t know how far that is true, but there is something we are sure of – the oil is worth knowing about.

protip_icon Trivia
The sunflower plant is native to North America, and the first seed-pressing sunflower oil plant was founded in 1946.

How Is Sunflower Oil Good For Your Health?

Close up of a chef pouring sunflower oil onto a pan on the stove

Image: Shutterstock

The most abundant nutrient in the oil is vitamin E. It also contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, and oleic acid. While linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fat, oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat.

A monkey study shows that these two components can enhance fatty acid profiles in the body (2). The linoleic acid in the oil also supports normal immune response.

Substituting animal fats with sunflower oil also cuts down the risk of cardiovascular disease (3).

The oil is available in different varieties – linoleic, mid-oleic, and high-oleic. Each varies in the amount of unsaturated and saturated fats, but their nutritional benefits are the same. Sunflower oil is one of the nutritionally rich natural foods – and it helps you in various ways.

protip_icon Fun Fact
The Mayans worshipped the sunflower plant, and that’s why they used its oil for therapeutic purposes

What Are The Health Benefits Of Sunflower Oil?

The unsaturated fatty acids in the oil promote heart health. Sunflower oil also contains vitamin E, which has excellent benefits for the skin. The varied nutrients in the oil offer great health benefits.

1. Promotes Heart Health

Sunflower oil promotes heart health

Image: IStock

The American Heart Association lists sunflower oil among those with less saturated fat and more of the better fats (4). You can replace solid fats in your diet (including butter and margarine) with sunflower oil. This can help prevent heart disease.

Sunflower oil also may have beneficial effects on the cholesterol profile. The unsaturated fats it contains are well metabolized in the liver. This contributes to improved cholesterol profiles (5).

Sunflower oil also lowers cholesterol levels. It also increases the levels of HDL (good cholesterol), thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (6).

2. May Promote Digestion

Some sources state that sunflower oil might have laxative properties – and this may ease digestion. We need more research in this regard, though.

3. May Enhance Oral Health

Sunflower oil can help maintain oral health.

Image: Shutterstock

Sunflower oil is extremely beneficial for oil pulling. It reduces plaque-related gingivitisi  XA mild form of oral disease that affects the gingiva (present in the gum) and causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. (7). The oil exhibits antibacterial activity against C. albicans, which is the most common cause of infections in people (8).

4. May Help Fight Cancer

In a mouse skin tumor model, sunflower oil had offered 40% protection against cancer. This was attributed to the sesamol in the oil (9).

However, we need more research to further establish sunflower oil’s chemopreventive properties.

5. May Fight Inflammation

Sunflower oil may prevent the gastric damage most NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) cause. When taken with indomethacin (an NSAID), the oil was found to reduce the adverse side effects of the drug (10).

We don’t know yet how effectively sunflower oil reduces inflammation as research is ongoing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it might help treat rheumatoid arthritisi  XAn autoimmune disease that affects small joints like the wrist, leading to joint pain and inflammation. by reducing inflammation. However, we need conclusive research in this aspect.

Also, sunflower oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids. Excess intake of these can trigger the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body (11). The standard American diet is already high in omega-6 fatty acids. Hence, you should be careful before adding sunflower oil to your diet – especially in this regard.

6. Fights Acne

Image: Shutterstock

Topical application of sunflower oil helps boost skin health. The oil is rich in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. It may potentially fight the actions of the reactive oxygen species, which may have a role to play in acne (12).

Sunflower oil can also accelerate the recovery of the skin barrier. This can be attributed to the linoleic acid in the oil (13).

7. Helps Treat Eczema

When topically used, sunflower oil can have excellent anti-inflammatory effects (14). As discussed, the oil also improves the skin barrier. This way, it further enhances skin health.

The vitamin E in sunflower oil aids the treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema). Oral vitamin E treatment in 96 eczema patients resulted in improvement and near remission of the condition (15). The oil also may treat dry skin, which is another symptom of eczema.

As we saw, the vitamin E in the oil largely contributes to the oil’s skin benefits. The unsaturated fatty acids in the oil promote better health. The following section gets into the details of these constituents of sunflower oil.

What Is The Nutrition Profile Of Sunflower Oil?

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calories39.8(167 kJ)2%
From Carbohydrate0.0(0.0 kJ)
From Fat39.8(167 kJ)
From Protein0.0(0.0 kJ)
From Alcohol0.0(0.0 kJ)
Fats & Fatty Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Fat4.5 g7%
Saturated Fat0.4 g2%
Monounsaturated Fat3.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.2 g
Total trans fatty acids~
Total trans-monoenoic fatty acids~
Total trans-polyenoic fatty acids~
Total Omega-3 fatty acids8.6 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids162 mg
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)1.8 mg9%
Vitamin K0.2 mcg0%

*Values sourced from nutritiondata.self, oil, vegetable, sunflower

The oil could be replete with healthy unsaturated fatty acids and using it in cooking is a sure-shot way to boost your health. But before you do that, you may want to know its potential ill effects.

What Are The Side Effects Of Sunflower Oil?

Woman experiences allergic reactions due to consumption of sunflower oil

Image: Shutterstock

  • Possible Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Sunflower oil is beneficial during pregnancy and breastfeeding – it conserves vitamin A in breast milk that can be beneficial to the baby (16). But you need to reduce its intake – as the oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids that may not be healthy in large amounts (17).

  • May Aggravate Diabetes Symptoms

Sunflower oil may increase fasting insulini  XA peptide hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood and controls blood sugar levels. and blood glucose levels due to its linoleic acid content (18). It may also increase post-meal blood fats. If you have diabetes, stay away from sunflower oil.

  • May Cause Allergies

If you are allergic to plants like ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums – you may experience allergies with sunflower oil.

Infographic: Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a popular choice of cooking oil. Whether used for deep frying or baking, it gives food a neutral taste and offers a wide range of benefits.

Discover in the infographic below more about sunflower oil, its nutritional values compared to other popular oils, how you can add it to your diet, and some alternatives.

amazing benefits of sunflower oil nutrition & side effects (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Sunflower seed oil is a popular cooking oil rich in vitamin E and healthy fatty acids. It not only helps improve your cardiac and digestive health but also helps fight acne and improve your skin texture when applied topically. It helps combat inflammations and may have anti-cancer properties as well. While it is considered safe for consumption in pregnancy and lactating women, it may not be healthy in large amounts due to its omega-6 fatty acid content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the substitute for sunflower oil?

You can substitute sunflower oil with safflower oil and olive oil.

Is sunflower oil gluten-free?

Yes. Most cooking oils are naturally gluten-free. Sunflower oil is also gluten-free.

Can sunflower oil whiten skin?

Yes. While the linoleic acid in sunflower oil helps control melanin production and reduces pigmentation, its vitamin E may brighten skin tone (19), (20).

Can I leave sunflower oil on my body overnight?

Yes, you may. The oil is non-comedogenic, absorbs well, and does not clog pores or cause any irritation.

Can sunflower oil remove dark circles?

Yes, the vitamin E in the oil can help reduce dark circles and under-eye bags (15).

Does sunflower oil contain vitamin D?

No, sunflower oil does not contain vitamin D (21).

Key Takeaways

  • The antibacterial properties of sunflower oil prevent plaque-related diseases and oral infections.
  • Topical application of this oil prevents and reduces acne.
  • Vitamin E in the oil heals dry skin and helps treat eczema.
  • Linoleic acid in sunflower oil increases fasting insulin and blood glucose levels, which makes it unsuitable for people with diabetes.


  1. Kansas profile: now that’s rural…” K-State Research and Extension.
  2. The influence of linoleate and vitamin E…” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Food use and health effects of…” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Healthy cooking oils” American Heart Association.
  5. Effects of palm and sunflower oils on serum…” Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. How canola and sunflower oils affect lipid…” Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related…” Journal of the Nigeria Medical Association, US National Library of Medicine.
  8. In vitro antifungal activity of ozonized…” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Chemopreventive effect of resveratrol, sesamol…” Pharmacological Research, US National Library of Medicine.
  10. Beneficial effects of vegetable oils…” European Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
  11. Fats and oils to avoid” Arthritis Foundation.
  12. Addressing free radical oxidation in acne…” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Impact of topical oils on the skin barrier…” Acta Paediatrica, US National Library of Medicine.
  14. Alternative, complementary, and forgotten…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
  15. Vitamin E in dermatology” Pubmed
  16. Comparison of the effects…” The American journal of clinical nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  17. Omega-3 fatty acid…” Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology, US National Library of Medicine.
  18. Dietary unsaturated fatty acids…” American Diabetes Association.
  19. Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin
  20. Anti‐aging and brightening effects of a topical treatment containing vitamin C vitamin E and raspberry leaf cell culture extract
  21. Oil vegetable sunflower high oleic (70% and over)
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