Created on: January 20, 2013
The American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee recommends that everyone limits the amount of saturated fat that they take in on a daily basis, while replacing it with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from seeds, nuts, vegetables and fish. One such fat is sunflower oil, made from the pressed seeds of the sunflower, readily available for use in cooking. It has a number of health benefits, some of which are based on scientific evidence and some which still
Provides healthy fats
Sunflower oil’s primary health benefit is that it provides the body with healthy fats. There are three varieties of sunflower oil, all of which are low in saturated fat. These include linoleic sunflower oil, which is high in Vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids; high oleic sunflower oil, which is high in omega-9 fatty acids; and NuSun, which is a combination of both linoleic and oleic sunflower oil. The advantage of NuSun is that it can be used at very high cooking temperatures, unlike the other two, while still retaining all of the health benefits.
Contains antioxidants and phytochemicals
Sunflower oil contains antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are food compounds that protect the body against disease. As LiveStrong explains: “Antioxidants fight free radical damage to cells and are often in the form of vitamins.” In the case of sunflower oil, this is primarily Vitamin E. Phytochemicals are not nutrients per se, but are nevertheless believed to boost health. Sunflower oil contains phenolic acid and arginine, which some sources claim fight against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
There are a number of studies that suggest sunflower oil can help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), more commonly known as bad cholesterol. According to WebMD, more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of sunflower oil in this respect, but many researchers believe it is more effective than olive oil at lowering cholesterol and the fact that it is not a saturated fat means that doctors often recommend it as part of the fight against heart disease.
Eases a range of health complaints
WebMD lists a range of health complaints that it is believed sunflower oil can help ease, although again, more research is needed to substantiate these claims. These include arthritis, constipation and, when applied directly to the skin, psoriasis and skin wounds in general. Bearing in mind the fact that it is low in saturated fats anyway, there is every reason to start including more sunflower oil in your diet, particularly if you do suffer from any of these complaints, and using it on your skin at the same time.
Eye and skin benefits
Vitamin E is needed for healthy eyes and skin. Vitamin E needs to be provided regularly and, because sunflower oil can be a regular part of your daily diet, it is an excellent way of ensuring you get enough. It can also be taken in the form of supplements. LiveStrong also explains that sunflower oil is a great source of beta-carotene, which can be converted into Vitamin A. It is therefore supposed to be good for skin suppleness and tone, as well as protecting it against the damage caused by the sun and ageing in general.
Whereas some of the health benefits of sunflower oil remain unsubstantiated, it certainly appears that its advantages outweigh any disadvantages. If you don’t already use it on a regular basis, invest in some next time you go grocery shopping.
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