Sunflower vs. Safflower

Sunflower and safflower. Similar names but they are not the same thing. They do have one thing in common: both oils offer excellent health benefits. Used as cooking oils in cultures around the world, both are polyunsaturated oils, rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6, and considered healthier options than many other oils such as corn, and soybean. If you don’t know which one you should try, here’s a quick overview about sunflower and safflower.

Sunflower

Sunflower oil normally comes from the seed using steam extraction. Light in taste and color, this natural cooking oil is great for frying and baking and has a higher content of vitamin E than any other vegetable oil, including safflower oil. It contains a combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels but since sunflower oil is available in three varieties, the actual fat profile is determined by the specific type of sunflower oil.

Linoleic sunflower oil is the original version and has high levels of polyunsaturated fat, low levels of saturated fat, as well as good amounts of vitamin E and the essential fatty acid omega-6. High oleic sunflower oil is rich in monounsaturated acid and can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. NuSun sunflower oil is a new variety which has been created by the National Sunflower Association to meet the growing needs of the food industry. This variety has lower saturated fat levels than linoleic sunflower and higher oleic levels, making it slightly healthier.

Safflower

Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the safflower plant, a relative of the sunflower plant. Safflower oil is available in two different varieties: linoleic and oleic. The linoleic variety is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid and is used as a cold oil for salad dressings and marinades. The oleic variety is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid, and just like the linoleic version, is very low in saturated fats.

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