Sunflower Oil: Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a grain plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The sunflower plant is believed to be originated in North America and has been domesticated since 3000 B.C. North America, Russia, and Ukraine are the biggest producers of sunflowers.

This plant is prioritized for cultivation because of its phytoremediation potential, where plant and soil microbes are associated with reducing the toxic effects of elemental pollutants in the environment. (1)

Sunflower oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of a sunflower. The oil is divided into three types: standard, mid, and high-oleic acid-containing. Sunflower oil contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids( linolenic, linoleic, oleic, stearic, palmitic, and arachidic). (2) The seeds can also provide reasonable amounts of vitamins, minerals, and tocopherols. (3)

Sunflower seeds grow in the flower head of the plant. The flower is big with bright yellow color. The seed is matured when the back of the flower head is yellow. A single flower head can contain up to 2000 seeds. The seed of the sunflower is in the range of 30 cm in diameter. (4) The flavor of the seeds (oil) is nutty and mild with a firm texture. They are often roasted to enhance flavor. 

The most effective use of sunflower oil is in cooking. It is also used to make lubricants, biofuel, and cosmetics. It is also added to medicine and wine-making. The oil can be a good moisturizer for the skin and scalp. (2)

Nutritional Facts

Fatty acids can’t be synthesized by the human body but are important for maintaining body functions known as essential fatty acids. Sunflower oil is good for supplying essential nutrition for human consumption and is one of the best quality vegetable oils with its fatty acid composition. (3) The analysis of sunflower oil with its nutritional composition is (6)

Sunflower oil is high in monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fatty acids, which are healthy fats benefiting our heart health. The level of oleic acid and linoleic acid remains vice-versa in sunflower oil. (5) It also contains saturated fats, known as unhealthy fats, which help regulate cholesterol levels in the blood. 

LipidsAmounts (per 100 grams)
Total fats 93.2 g
Saturated fatty acid8.99 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acid20.7 g
Monounsaturated fatty acid63.4 g
Total trans-monoenoic0.035 g

Sunflower oil is high in calories (884 kcal/100 g). It also contains vitamins like vitamin E (41.1 mg/100 g), vitamin K (5.4 mcg/100 g), and choline (0.2 mg/100 g). (7)

Phytosterols are plant sterols found in sunflower oil. It contains stigmasterol (29.2 mg/100 g), campesterol (33.9 mg/100 g), beta-sitosterol (205 mg/100 g), beta-sitostanol, delta-5-avenasterol, and delta-7-stigmastenol. (6)

g-gram, mg-milligram, mcg-microgram, kcal-kilocalorie

Health Benefits

The practice of herbal medicine has been followed for centuries. Sunflower oil not only comes with cooking importance but also for providing medical needs for our bodies. It is incorporated into various medical and cosmetic products to benefit our heart and skin health. Moreover, the consumption of sunflower oil in a regular manner helps our health in every possible way. 

  1. Can reduce cancer risk: Sunflower oil is high in PUFAs, boosting immunity against inflammation. Consumption of this oil reduces oxidative reactions and prevents the development of tumor cells. It also contains phytosterols like β-sitosterol, phenolic compounds, and other bioactive compounds, which are also responsible for reducing cancer risk. (8)
  1. Can be good for heart health: Sunflower oil is rich in MUFAs and PUFAs like oleic and linoleic acid. These fatty acids help to maintain the levels of low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides. This results in balancing the flow of blood and cholesterol levels in our body and protecting heart health. (9) Soybean oil also reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  1. Can improve skin health: Sunflower oil contains a good amount of vitamin E (tocopherols), known for its antioxidant properties. It helps to moisturize the skin and prevent sunburn. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids for improving skin health and delaying aging. (10)
  1. Can maintain diabetes: The phytosterols present in sunflower oil possess antioxidant properties. Consumption of vegetable oil packed with antioxidants prevent insulin resistance and keeps the flow of hormone insulin. Balance in insulin levels helps in preventing and maintaining diabetes. (11) Sunflower oil benefits the one on medication for type-2 diabetes. 
  1. Can improve nerve and brain health: The presence of vitamin E, phytosterols, and linoleic acid is suitable for brain-related conditions. Vitamin E reduces the growth of Alzheimer’s disease. It also reduces inflammation and pain in nerves. (12) Presence of choline also helps reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. (13)

Despite being an essential ingredient in cooking and benefiting our health in every possible way, sunflower oil can still cause a health risk. As it is high in calories, excessive intake can lead to unwanted weight gain. High-heat cooking or re-heating sunflower oil can release potentially toxic compounds (aldehyde), increasing the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. (9)

  1. Fernández-Luqueño, Fabián & López-Valdez, Fernando & Miranda-Arámbula, Mariana & Rosas-Morales, Minerva & Pariona, Nicolaza & Espinoza-Zapata, Roberto. (2014). An Introduction to the Sunflower Crop. 
  2. Asare MA, Kote P, Chaudhary S, de Souza FM, Gupta RK. Sunflower oil as a renewable resource for polyurethane foams: Effects of flame-retardants. Polymers. 2022;14(23):5282.  
  3. Khan, Sheeba & Choudhary, Saumya & Pandey, Anamika & Khan, Mohd & Thomas, George. (2015). Sunflower oil: Efficient oil source for human consumption. Emergent Life Sciences Research. 1. 1-3. 
  4. McCulloch M. Sunflower seeds: Nutrition, health benefits and how to eat them [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2018 [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 
  5. Akkaya, Murat. (2018). Fatty acid compositions of sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L.) grown in east Mediterranea region. Rivista Italiana Delle Sostanze Grasse. XCV. 239-247. 
  6. Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 
  7. Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 
  8. Al-Jumaily, Rakad & Al-Jumaily, & Mohammed Ali Al-Shammaa, Nawal & Al-Halbosiy, Mohammed & Al-Shamma, Laith. (2013). Anticancer Activity of Sunflower (Helianthus annuns L.) Seeds oil against cell lines ‫الشمس‬ ‫زهرة‬ ‫بذور‬ ‫زيت‬ ‫فعالية‬ (Helianthus annuns L.) ‫السرطانية‬ ‫الخلوية‬ ‫الخطوط‬ ‫ضد‬ ‫الجميلي‬ ‫خماس‬ ‫محمد‬ ‫ركاد‬ 1 ، ‫الشماع‬ ‫اد‬ ‫جو‬ ‫محمد‬ ‫ال‬ ‫نو‬ 2 ، ‫الحلبوسي‬ ‫فرحان‬ ‫محمود‬ ‫محمد‬ 3 ، ‫الشماع‬ ‫اد‬ ‫جو‬ ‫محمد‬ ‫ليث‬ 1. 
  9. Person. Is sunflower oil healthy? [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2020 [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 
  10. Stoia, Mihaela & Oancea, Simona. (2015). Selected Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Topically Applied Sunflower Oil. Applied Science Reports. 10. 45-49. 
  11. Poletto, Ana & Anhe, Gabriel & Eichler, Paula & Takahashi, Hilton & Furuya, Daniela & Okamoto, Maristela & Curi, Rui & Machado, Ubiratan. (2010). Soybean and sunflower oil-induced insulin resistance correlates with impaired GLUT4 protein expression and translocation specifically in white adipose tissue. Cell biochemistry and function. 28. 114-21. 10.1002/cbf.1628. 
  12. Sunflower oil: Is it good for you? pros and cons, nutrition information, and more [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 
  13. Singh DR. Sunflower oil: Uses, benefits, side effects by dr. Rajeev Singh [Internet]. PharmEasy Blog. 2022 [cited 2023Feb3]. Available from: 

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