No, sunflower oil is not bad for you. In fact, it’s relatively good for you—in moderation, sunflower oil has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and it’s also an effective topical treatment for eczema and athlete’s foot.
In a world of “fat-free” food wrappers and “fat-blasting” nutritional supplements, it’s easy to forget that your body actually needs fat. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that healthy adults consume somewhere between 20 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat. And not just any fat—the AHA specifically suggests that they come from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Here’s why: selecting healthier sources of fat has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease. Sunflower oil is a great substitute, as most of its fat content is unsaturated. In addition to being low in cholesterol and sodium, it’s also a very nutrient-dense food: sunflower oil contains vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which helps boost your immune system and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Sunflower oil also has significant benefits when applied topically. Ozonated sunflower oil, specifically, has been shown to be just as effective in treating athlete’s foot as the tried-and-true anti-fungal ketoconazole. Other studies have suggested that the high-moisture properties of sunflower oil are beneficial in the treatment of eczema.
However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing... particularly for those who are already battling obesity, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Sunflower oil contains essential fatty acids, which is great... but it’s important to note that it carries a much higher omega-6 content than most other vegetable oils. So if you eat too much sunflower oil, it can cause an imbalance of fatty acids within your body, which can lead to chronic, inflammatory conditions. Additionally, consuming too much sunflower oil may spike your body’s blood sugar and fasting insulin. If you have type 2 diabetes, this may increase your chances of developing hardened arteries.
So how can you safely enjoy the benefits of sunflower oil? First, you should consult your physician before adding the oil to your diet. Your health care provider will be able to screen you for conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes so that they can warn you if sunflower oil is not appropriate for your diet. Second, if you are cleared to use sunflower oil, monitor your intake. Pay attention to how much omega-6 your body needs, and how much you’re taking in on a daily basis to avoid over-consumption.
Possible long-term side effects
- atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries in those with type 2 diabetes
- various inflammatory conditions (when overconsumed)
Ingredients to be aware of
- decreased risk of heart disease
- helps reduce cholesterol
- boosts immune system
- treats skin conditions (athlete’s foot, eczema)