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Sunflower oil is obtained from the sunflower. It is pressed from the actual flower as well as the black seeds of the flower. It is a light oil, prefect for healthy cooking. It also has properties that help in rejuvenating tired skin and nurturing the proper and healthy growth of hair. Since the oil has a long shelf life, it has been widely used in manufacturing cosmetic products.
Even though the sunflower oil is rich in health benefits, most of the people are not aware of this since it is not very popular in the cooking front. Let’s delve deep into the topic and find out why and how sunflower oil is advantageous to health.
How is the sunflower oil made?
The sunflower oil is mainly extracted from the flower itself and also its seeds. There are two types of seeds; confection sunflower seeds and non-oil sunflower seeds. The former is the one that is used to extract the oil and the latter is used as fodder for animals and is not fit for consumption by humans.
Sunflower oil can be obtained with the aid of chemical solvents or by the method of expeller pressing. It is the method through which the oil is obtained by directly squeezing the flower and crushing the seeds. This method is generally preferred over the former since this doesn’t involve any usage of chemicals.
There are two versions of sunflower oils available in the market today; refined and unrefined. Refined oil is obtained by treating the primary output from the extraction to various refining techniques. It is more thermally stable, but the refining processes wash out all the nutrient content. Unrefined sunflower oil is less heat-stable and contains most of the original nutrients, colour and flavour.
What makes it healthy?
It contains unsaturated fat in healthy proportions. This can be used to replace saturated fats in our diet, which are considered unhealthy for a sound body. The original oil is mainly composed of linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It also contains appreciable amounts of healthy organic acids such as palmitic acid and oleic acid. Other components include carotenoids, tocopherols, lecithin and vitamins A, D and E, all of which have significant health benefits. There are many options of healthy sunflower oil available in the market today.
The health benefits
Consumption of saturated fats increases the risk of heart-related problems. The sunflower oil has very low amounts of unsaturated fat and is rich in healthy saturated fat. It also contains other chemicals such as phenolic acid and choline that aid in the proper maintenance of the heart functioning. The vitamins contained in the oil are also beneficial when it comes to the health of the heart. Replacing your regular cooking oil with sunflower oil can lower the risk of heart diseases and heart attack.
The vitamin E content in sunflower oil is the largest when compared with that of other cooking oils. It is known to provide protection against colon cancer. It is also a good source of carotenoids that aid in the prevention of lung, skin and uterine cancers.
The unsaturated fats contained in other cooking oils are difficult to breakdown through the normal rate of metabolism. Hence proper digestion of the fats will not happen, and it will get carried by the blood to different parts of the body and gets deposited there. This will increase the LDL cholesterol levels, which is the bad cholesterol and can lead to health problems like a blockage in the heart, heart attacks, joint pains, etc.
While saturated fats make you feel passive and sluggish, unsaturated fats will give the right amount of energy to keep you going all through the day. It contains proteins and other minerals that aid in the repair of tissues and production of enzymes and hormones, which will rejuvenate the whole body.
Asthma is mainly caused by the inflammation in lungs. The high vitamin E content of the sunflower oil gives it good anti-inflammatory capacity and hence is useful in preventing asthma.
Sunflower oil, when applied on skin, strengthens the membranes of the skin cells making them less penetrable to disease-causing microorganisms. This is especially useful in case of infants and babies born prematurely since their immune system is rather weak and more susceptible to attack.
Since sunflower oils have anti-inflammatory capacities, they have been known to be effective in preventing arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease. Regular use of the oil can help prevent arthritis.
Sunflower oil is rich in nutrients and other chemicals that help in boosting the health of human body. Switching your regular cooking oil with sunflower oil can prove to be highly beneficial for your diet. There are many other healthy alternatives to your regular cooking oil as well.
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