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The Nutrition of Sunflower Oil

By Frank Whittemore

Sunflower oil is the expressed oil of sunflower seed kernels. Clear, with a light yellow to gold color and a mild taste, sunflower oil makes a good all-purpose vegetable oil for cooking and can be an ingredient in salad dressings, sauces, sandwich spreads and granola bars. Sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and contains heart healthy linoleic acid.


Sunflower oil is 100 percent fat, with nearly 10 percent of that being saturated fat. The oil contains no carbohydrate, protein or water. There are 248 calories in 1 oz. of sunflower oil, which provides 43 percent of the daily recommended intake of fats for the average adult. Sunflower oil is not a significant source of dietary fiber and there is no appreciable amount of cholesterol in this oil.

Vitamins and Minerals

Sunflower oil contains approximately 58 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol, for the average adult--and 2 percent for vitamin K. There are no appreciable minerals in sunflower oil.

High Linoleic Sunflower Oil

There are two commonly available sunflower oils, each with a different fatty acid profile, according to the National Sunflower Association. High linoleic sunflower oil is common on grocery store shelves and makes a good cooking oil for home use, and it is used in commercial food production.

NuSun Sunflower Oil

A relatively new variety of sunflower oil, called NuSun, balances linoleic and oleic acids. Hydrogenation of sunflower oil significantly improves its shelf life. Hydrogenation introduces trans fats into the oil, which can have a detrimental effect on the health of the cardiovascular system. NuSun does not require hydrogenation for storage, eliminating the risk of exposure to trans fats from this sunflower oil.

Expert Insight

In a 2009 science advisory, the American Heart Association stated that current prevailing evidence supports the use of oils that contain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids as a means to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Since linoleic acid cannot be synthesized by the human body, sunflower oil provides a good source of linoleic acid in the diet.

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