Sunflower oil is the non–volatile oil compressed from the seeds of Sunflower plant. It is commonly used in food as frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient. It is a monounsaturated/polyunsaturated mixture of mostly Oleic Acid (Omega–9) – Linoleic Acid (Omega–6) group of oils. The oil content of the seed ranges from 22% to 36% (average 28%); the kernel contains 45–55% oil. The expressed oil is of light amber color with a mild and pleasant flavor; refined oil is pale yellow. Refining losses are low and the oil has good keeping qualities with light tendency for flavor reversion. The oil contains appreciable qualities of vitamin E, Sterols, Squalene, and other aliphatic hydrocarbons.
Sunflower oil is mainly a Triglyceride; a typical constituent is shown below;
It is high in the essential vitamin E and low in saturated fat. The two most common types are Linoleic and high Oleic. Linoleic Sunflower Oil is common cooking oil that has high levels of polyunsaturated fat. It is also known for having a clean taste and low levels of polyunsaturated fat. It is also known for having a clean taste and low levels of Trans fat. High Oleic Sunflower Oils are classified as having monounsaturated levels of 80% and above. Newer versions of sunflower oil have been developed as a hybrid containing Linoleic Acid. They have monounsaturated levels lower than other Oleic sunflower oils. The hybrid oil also has lower saturated fat levels than Linoleic sunflower oil.
Because Sunflower Oil is primarily composed of less–stable polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. It can be particularly susceptible to degradation by heat, air and light. It triggers and accelerates oxidation. Keeping it at low temperatures during manufacture and storage can help minimize rancidity and nutrient loss. The storage in bottles are made of either darkly colored glass or plastic that has been treated with an ultraviolet light protectant.