Whenever you hear that someone you know has had a heart attack, the first thing that dominates your mind, is the thought of joining a gym and reducing the quantity of fatty substances such as cooking oil in your food. Other alternative is to start using sunflower oil for its health benefits. Maybe, you are not aware that you are already reaping the benefits of sunflower oil, as it may be in the use in your household. If it is so, then you have a reason to rejoice. The sunflower oil is well appreciated for the benefits it brings because of its health enhancing nutrient contents.
You can choose from the two types of sunflower oils, viz. linoleic and high oleic, that are available in the market. High oleic sunflower oil is known to be rich in the monounsaturated acid. But, it is the linoleic type containing polyunsaturated fat, that we commonly know and use as sunflower oil.
Effects on Health
Saturated fats found in coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil can resist temperature ranging from 180 to 200 degrees Celsius. They are difficult to break down completely during metabolism and are carried by the blood to different parts of the body and get deposited. This causes health problems like embolism, atherosclerosis, joint pains and birth defects. This does not mean that all the types of saturated fats are bad. In fact they are needed, in small quantities, for the proper functioning of the brain and body. However, in large amount they may increase the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels in the body. It is one of the factors that is liked with the heart diseases and strokes. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and World Heart Federation has recommended replacing these fats by the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats are present in the sunflower oil and provide energy and at the same time, lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by maintaining the ideal LDL/HDL (good cholesterol) ratio in the blood.
The chemical bonding in the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, is weaker than that of the saturated fats, such as butter. This is the reason for their low melting point. At room temperature, most of the unsaturated fats (poly and mono) remain in liquid state, unlike saturated fats. The monounsaturated fats or fatty acids have low melting point than that of saturated fats, however it is higher than that of polyunsaturated fats.
The presence of the phytochemicals, such as choline, phenolic acid makes sunflower oil, the favored oil for cooking. These chemicals are known to prevent heart diseases. The presence of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, along with vitamins in high quantity makes it a healthy oil.
It is found that in the preterm infants having low birth weight , sunflower oil is useful in reducing the risk of infections. In these babies, there is always a risk of infection because of their underdeveloped immune system and organs such as skin. Sunflower oil works as a protective barrier, when applied to the skin.
Fights Free Radicals
One of the benefits of the sunflower oil is that it acts as an antioxidant, due to the presence of vitamin E in it. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes cancer causing free radicals.
Vitamin E, in the sunflower oil, acts as moisturizer and helps the skin cells in retaining water. For this reason, sunflower is often used in cosmetic products. Sunflower oil, through vitamin E, also prevents rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and colon cancer. Folate or folic acid present in sunflower oil, helps the body in the manufacture of new cells. Magnesium helps in preventing muscle cramps, while tryptophan helps in relaxing the brain and promoting sleep by helping the body in the production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. In addition to the nutrients mentioned above sunflower oil also contains following nutrients:
- Vitamin B
- Palmitic acid
- Stearic acid
- Omega-6 fatty acids
Fast lifestyles and increased levels of stress coupled with the target driven professional life is taxing. Fatty diet, instant foods and lack of exercising also adds to the situation. As the first step in changing your lifestyle, choose a healthy cooking oil.