A Closer Look at Sunflower Oil & Safflower Oil

Sunflower Oil (Helianthus annuus) oil is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower. It is made up of predominately linoleic acid (48-74%), monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid (14-40%), palmitic acid (4-9%) and stearic acid (1-7%). There are several versions of sunflower produced ranging from high linoleic, high oleic and mid oleic. The variations in the unsaturated fatty acid profile are factors of both the growing climate and genetics of the plant. All sunflower oil has high vitamin E content.

Sunflower oil is used primarily in the food industry but has applications in the cosmetic industry as well. It helps form a seal that retains moisture but allows the skin to breath. An interesting study found that sunflower oil used as a treatment for low birth weight pre-term infants lowered the rate of infections by 41%. The theory is that pre-mature babies have underdeveloped skin which leaves them more susceptible to infections and that sunflower oil created the much needed barrier on the skin.

Safflower Oil (Carthamus tinctorius) comes from the seeds of an herbaceous thistle like annual flower. Safflower oil is polyunsaturated oil that is similar to sunflower oil in nutrient values and shelf life. Safflower and Sunflower are relatively unstable when exposed to high heat, light or oxygen. Both safflower and sunflower are good to use in low heat or no heat formulas. Safflower oil contains the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid oleic acid (78.9%), unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid linoleic (11%), palmitic acid (6.2%) and linolenic (.02%).

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