Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Sunflower oil is one of the classics among cooking oils. After rapeseed oil, it is the most popular vegetable oil in the German kitchen: around 52 million litres of sunflower oil were purchased by private households in 2015. The reason for this is probably that sunflower oil is versatile, has a neutral, pleasant taste and is also very healthy.

Sunflower oil is produced from the seeds of sunflowers. The seeds are pressed in various processes and finally produce the light yellow, nutty sunflower oil. In this guide, you can find out how different sunflower oils differ and which one is best for you.




Summary

  • Sunflower oil is available as cold-pressed or refined oil. While refined sunflower oil is good for frying and baking, cold-pressed oil is more commonly used for cold dishes.
  • Cold-pressed sunflower oil has a high content of unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. It is therefore part of a balanced and healthy diet. Therefore, it is part of a balanced and healthy diet.
  • When buying sunflower oil, you should pay attention to the production process, the content of unsaturated fatty acids, the intended use and the packaging of the sunflower oil.

The Best Sunflower Oil: Our Picks

Not all sunflower oil is the same. The differences and the choice are great. Nevertheless, there is certainly a sunflower oil for everyone that meets the needs and the desired application.

In the following, we have compiled and compared various sunflower oils. Based on these recommendations and reviews, you will surely find the right sunflower oil for you.

Buying and evaluation criteria for sunflower oil

Which sunflower oil is best for you? To help you decide when buying a sunflower oil, we have compiled various criteria for evaluation. These are:

In the next section, we go through each purchase criterion individually and explain why we place particular emphasis on these points when evaluating sunflower oils.

Production process

Like most edible oils, sunflower oil comes in two types: cold-pressed, native sunflower oil and hot-pressed, refined sunflower oil.

The two sunflower oils differ in their production. Refined sunflower oil is obtained by high heating and hot pressing. It then undergoes several purification processes.

Cold-pressed sunflower oil, as the name suggests, is obtained by cold-pressing the sunflower seeds. The sunflower seeds are not heated. Therefore, the production is particularly gentle.

Refined sunflower oil is heat-resistant. It has a particularly long shelf life, is neutral in taste and cheaper than cold-pressed sunflower oil. However, due to the production process, it contains hardly any nutrients, as these are lost during the high heating.

Cold-pressed sunflower oils are hardly heat-resistant, but thanks to the gentle production they have a high content of vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids. They also taste slightly nutty. Cold-pressed sunflower oil is mostly virgin, which means that the oil is natural and contains no flavourings or additional substances. This makes cold-pressed oil healthier and more valuable than refined oil.

Content of unsaturated fatty acids

Vegetable oils and especially sunflower oil are usually rich in valuable unsaturated fatty acids. However, individual sunflower oils also differ in their content of unsaturated fatty acids. Cold-pressed oil generally contains more of them than refined oil.

A distinction is made between monounsaturated fatty acids, which can be produced by the body itself, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They must be supplied to the body through food, as they cannot be produced by the body itself.

Unsaturated fatty acids play an important role in cell structure and also lower cholesterol levels. Saturated fatty acids, on the other hand, lead to increased cholesterol levels if consumed in excess.

Therefore, the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids is an important evaluation criterion in our test.

Application

Depending on the properties of sunflower oil, it is more or less suitable for baking, cold dishes, steaming or hot frying.

Of course, everyone must decide for themselves what they want to use the sunflower oil for.

Cold-pressed sunflower oil is best suited for seasoning or preparing cold dishes, while refined sunflower oil is more suitable for baking and frying in a pan.

Packaging

Sunflower oil, especially cold-pressed sunflower oil, should be stored in a light-protected, cool and airtight container.

Metal bottles or dark-coloured glass bottles are best suited as packaging. If the sunflower oil is unsuitably packaged, it can also be decanted into suitable storage tins or bottles. The main thing is that the oil is well protected from light during storage, because light can destroy the vitamins in sunflower oil.

Plastic packaging is not recommended because on the one hand it does not protect the oil from light. On the other hand, substances can dissolve from the plastic due to incorrect storage.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about sunflower oil answered in detail

In the following, we have compiled frequently asked questions about sunflower oil. So you know everything you need to know before you decide to buy sunflower oil.

What is sunflower oil suitable for?

Refined sunflower oil is particularly heat-resistant due to its production process. This makes it particularly suitable for baking, frying and deep-frying. Since it is tasteless, no unwanted flavour remains in cake batter, for example.

Cold-pressed, virgin sunflower oil, on the other hand, is not suitable for strong heating. It tastes nutty and goes best with cold dishes, such as salad dressings, mayonnaises, marinades or remoulades. Cold-pressed sunflower oil is also suitable for light sautéing or cooking at low heat, for example for preparing vegetables.

Sunflower oil provides valuable nutrients and therefore contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. (Image source: Ulrike Leone / Pixabay)

By the way, sunflower oil can not only be used in the kitchen. Because of its good ingredients, it can also be used as a body oil. Cold-pressed oil is best for this.

How healthy is sunflower oil?

Sunflower oil is rich in vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids. If you eat two tablespoons of sunflower oil a day, you will cover your daily vitamin E requirement. It also contains vitamins K, B, D and A.

Unsaturated fatty acids maintain a normal cholesterol level and support the building of cells and important cell functions.

Cold-pressed sunflower oil is generally even healthier. Due to its gentle production, more nutrients are preserved. In contrast, these are lost in the production of highly heated sunflower oil.

What types of sunflower oil are there?

There is a general distinction between refined hot-pressed and virgin cold-pressed sunflower oil. Due to different production processes, they have different properties. Refined sunflower oil, for example, is more heat-resistant.

Sunflower oil also occurs in mixed oils. These consist mainly of sunflower oil mixed with other oils, such as olive or rapeseed oil. Mixed oils are usually cheaper and often more heat-resistant than pure sunflower oil.

There is also a special type of sunflower oil: the so-called high-oleic sunflower oil. This oil is made from the seeds of a certain sunflower variety that have a particularly high oleic acid content. High-oleic oil is therefore very heat-stable and therefore well suited as a frying oil.

Sunflower oil or rapeseed oil - which is better?

When it comes to vitamin E content, sunflower oil is the front-runner. With 70 milligrams per 100 millilitres in the cold-pressed version and 56 milligrams in the refined form, its vitamin E content is far above that of rapeseed oil. The latter comes with only 34 milligrams of vitamin E.

On the other hand, rapeseed oil contains more unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. In general, both oils have individual good qualities and are best suited for a healthy, balanced diet.

How is old sunflower oil disposed of properly?

A residue of sunflower oil in the bottle that has already gone bad can be disposed of with the bottle as a whole. However, the bottle should be tightly closed so that no oil leaks out.

The bottle can also be wrapped with paper or kitchen roll to prevent a greasy film from forming in the waste bin.

Small amounts of sunflower oil can be disposed of down the drain. However, too much oil in the drain will lead to blockages in the sewage pipe.

Conclusion

It is not for nothing that sunflower oil is one of the most popular cooking oils in German cuisine. It is versatile and suitable for preparing almost any dish.

Just make sure to use the appropriate sunflower oil for each use: refined sunflower oil for frying, baking and deep-frying, cold-pressed sunflower oil for dressing salads, other cold dishes and for light sautéing.

Thanks to its high content of unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, sunflower oil contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. The most important criteria when deciding on a purchase are the intended use and the quality of the product.

(Cover photo: Bruno/Germany / Pixabay )

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