Sunflower Oil Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
sunflower oil benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: sunflower oil is good for / helps aid digestion, boost energy

Longevity: sunflower oil is good for / helps boost immunity, detoxification, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease | sunflower oil is bad / increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and heart disease (when heated at high temperatures), inflammation

Appearance: sunflower oil is good for / helps fight acne, eczema, inflammation and general redness and irritation of the skin, prevent hair thinning, control frizzy hair and combat hair dryness and damage (when applied topically), slow aging | sunflower oil is bad for / increases the risk of weight gain

Sunflower oil is…

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Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, it takes 6,792 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined sunflower oil / 814 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined sunflower oil

Carbon footprint: high, 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of sunflower seed oil, a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, high carbon footprint + high water footprint = a relatively unsustainable ingredient, especially compared to alternatives

Sunflower oil is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, sunflower oil production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, sunflower oil production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from sunflower oil production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Sunflower oil is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Sunflower oil…

Where are most sunflowers grown?

The world’s top sunflower oil exporting country is Ukraine, followed by Bulgaria, Netherlands, France, Hungary, Romania, Spain, Moldova, Argentina and Mexico. Ukraine is the world’s leading sunflower oil producer followed by Russia, Argentina and Turkey. In the United States, South Dakota is the largest producer of sunflowers followed by North Dakota and Texas. 

Is sunflower oil nutritious?

All sunflower oils are 100% fat and contain vitamin E. Sunflower oils do not contain protein, carbs, cholesterol, or sodium.

sunflower oil is neutral.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is sunflower oil alkaline or acidic? Sunflower oil is neutral. What is the pH level of sunflower oil? Sunflower oil has a 7.0 pH level, once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

sunflower oil is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is sunflower oil gluten free? Yes, sunflower oil is gluten free. Sunflower oil does not contain gluten. Sunflower oil is made from sunflower seeds, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

sunflower oil is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is sunflower oil a common food allergen? No, sunflower oil is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to sunflower oil but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

sunflower oil has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does sunflower oil have a high or low water footprint? Sunflower oil has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of sunflower oil ? It takes 6,792 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined sunflower oil / 814 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined sunflower oil.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

sunflower oil has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does sunflower oil have a high or low carbon footprint? Sunflower oil has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of sunflower oil? It takes around 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of sunflower seed oil, a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

sunflower oil is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is sunflower oil eco friendly? Is sunflower oil sustainable?

Sunflower oil production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

sunflower oil is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is sunflower oil vegan? Yes, sunflower oil is vegan. Sunflower oil is an oil made from sunflower seeds and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

sunflower oil is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is sunflower oil a product with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns with sunflower oil production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

New Idea Food: sunflower oil

Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade – USDA Foreign

Sunflower oil – FoodData Central – USDA

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.