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In response to a growing public concern about hydrogenated oils, some food companies are switching to supposedly more healthful sunflower oil. However, some companies use hydrogenated sunflower oil, while others use non-hydrogenated 1. With a little information, you can tell the difference between sunflower oils which have been hydrogenated and those which have not.
Hydrogenation is a chemical process first developed in the 1950s, when food manufacturers discovered that by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils, they could create a product that would remain solid at room temperature. Sunflower oil was just one of many oils to undergo hydrogenation as manufacturers produced margarine and vegetable-based shortening. The problem with hydrogenation is that it produces trans fats. These fats lower good HDL cholesterol levels while increasing bad LDL cholesterol levels.
- Hydrogenation is a chemical process first developed in the 1950s, when food manufacturers discovered that by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils, they could create a product that would remain solid at room temperature.
- The problem with hydrogenation is that it produces trans fats.
Pure Sunflower Oil
Is Vegetable Shortening a Trans Fat?
Generally speaking, if you're buying pure sunflower oil in a bottle, it won't be hydrogenated. Since the reason food manufacturers hydrogenate oils is to make them firm at room temperature, they have no need to hydrogenate oils that they plan to sell in their natural, liquid form. Pure sunflower oil is a better choice than butter and lard; vegetable-based fats have more heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats than animal-based fats.
Products Containing Sunflower Oil
Though pure liquid sunflower oil is non-hydrogenated, that's not always the case for products containing sunflower oil. Current food labeling laws require manufacturers to list trans fats separately from other fats. However, don't rely on food labels that loudly declare "0 grams trans fats." If a recommended serving contains less than 0.5 g fat, the FDA allows the manufacturer to round down to zero. Instead, look at the ingredients label. If it lists "partially hydrogenated sunflower oil" or "hydrogenated sunflower oil," the product contains trans fat 1.
- Though pure liquid sunflower oil is non-hydrogenated, that's not always the case for products containing sunflower oil.
- However, don't rely on food labels that loudly declare "0 grams trans fats."
Crisco & Cholesterol
Pure, liquid sunflower oil is a healthy replacement for animal-based fats such as butter and lard. However, sunflower oil isn't the only healthful oil out there. For a little variety, try high-quality olive oil for topping salads or dipping breads, canola oil for higher-heat cooking such as sauteing vegetables and safflower oil for oven frying.
Is Vegetable Shortening a Trans Fat?
Crisco & Cholesterol
What Are the Benefits of Groundnut Oil?
Advantages and Disadvantages of Fat Hydrogenation
Is It Healthy to Cook French Fries in Canola Oil?
Which Vitamin Companies Are GMP Certified?
The Advantages of Biodegradable Products
Can I Substitute Safflower Oil for Vegetable Oil?
Foods Containing Flaxseed Oil
Octopus and Omega 3s
- American Heart Association: Hydrogenated Fats
- Iqbal MP. Trans fatty acids - A risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Pak J Med Sci. 2014;30(1):194-197. doi:10.12669/pjms.301.4525
- American Heart Association. Trans Fats. Updated March 23, 2017.
- Islam MA, Amin MN, Siddiqui SA, Hossain MP, Sultana F, Kabir MR. Trans fatty acids and lipid profile: A serious risk factor to cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019;13(2):1643-1647. doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2019.03.033
- Bhardwaj S, Passi S, Misra A, et al. Effect of Heating/Reheating of Fats/Oils, as Used by Asian Indians, on Trans Fatty Acid Formation. Food Chem. 2016;212:663-670. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.06.021
- Astrup A, Magkos F, Bier DM, et al. Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-Based Recommendations: JACC State-of-the-Art Review. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020;76(7):844-857. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2020.05.077
- Hayes KC, Pronczuk A. Replacing Trans Fat: The Argument for Palm Oil With a Cautionary Note on Interesterification. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010;29(3 Suppl):253S-284S. doi:10.1080/07315724.2010.10719842
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate. Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats.
- Berry SE, Bruce JH, Steenson S, et al. Interesterified fats: What are they and why are they used? A briefing report from the Roundtable on Interesterified Fats in Foods. Nutr Bull. 2019;44:363-380. doi:10.1111/nbu.12397
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats.
Melanie Greenwood has been a freelance writer since 2010. Her work has appeared in "The Denver Post" as well as various online publications. She resides in northern Colorado and she works helping to care for elderly and at-risk individuals. Greenwood holds a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral leadership from Bethany University in California.