Helianthus annuus L. [Fam. Asteraceae]
Organic sunflower oil expeller-pressed in the absence of light, heat and oxygen.
– Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
The common sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is an annual plant, native from Minnesota to Texas and California and also found in Central and South America. Aboriginal peoples cultivated the plant and found many uses for the plant, especially food uses for the nutritious seeds and oil. Sunflower oil is rich in linoleic acid (omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – polyunsaturates), oleic acid (omega-9s – monosaturates) and Vitamin E. Sunflower oil can be used to prevent and treat EFA deficiencies in the diet. It is important to have the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs in the diet for optimal health. Because sunflower oil contains no linolenic acid, or omega-3 EFAs, it should be combined with flaxseed oil for food and supplemental purposes in most cases. Too much omega-6 EFAs in the diet in the absence of adequate omega-3 EFAs favors the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins known to cause inflammation and joint pain and this can fuel the development of many serious and debilitating diseases. For instance, studies show that flaxseed oil, when given to animals exposed to toxic chemicals, prevented the formation of any abnormal growths; fish oil and evening primrose oil followed close behind and corn and safflower oils (like sunflower oil, containing only omega-6 EFA’s without any omega-3’s) were seen to stimulate the formation of abnormal growths. Studies indicate that a right fat diet, rich in both omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs and monounsaturates (oleic acid) and low in saturates, lowers serum cholesterol, promotes HDL lipid production and reduces the risk of vascular diseases. It is also important to use only certified organic expeller-pressed oils because heating oils like sunflower oil, rich in polyunsaturates, and refining them without care creates trans-fatty acids, which decrease the HDL lipids in the body.
Sunflower oil contains: Linoleic acid (omega-6 Essential Fatty Acid) polyunsaturates (50.0 – 72.0%); oleic acid (Omega 9) monosaturates (15.0 – 35 %) and saturated fatty acids (11%); Palmitic acid (4.0 – 9.0 %); Palmitoleic acid max. 1.0%; Stearic acid (1.0 – 7.0%); Linolenic acid (Omega 3) max. 2.0%; Arachidic acid max. 1.0%; Behenic acid max. 2.0%; Other fatty acids max. 2.0%; and free fatty acids as oleic acid (0.08%).
Take one to two tablespoons of oils rich in essential fatty acids per day. It is best to take sunflower oil blended with flaxseed oil rich in omega-3 EFAs in order to have an EFA-balanced oil for the diet. Sunflower oil can be used to make pleasant tasting culinary oils for salad dressings and other foods.
Sunflower oil, taken as a part of a well balanced diet, does not cause any side effects. However, researchers now understand that an excess of omega-6 EFA’s in the
diet increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and obesity. All of these diseases are associated with hyperinsulinemia (HI) and insulin resistance (IR) and are grouped together as the insulin resistance syndrome or syndrome X. There is also an increased cancer incidence and mortality rate, especially in women. Researchers conclude that, “high omega-6 linoleic acid consumption might aggravate HI and IR; such diets, rather than being beneficial, may have some long-term side effects within the cluster of hyperinsulinemia, atherosclerosis and tumorigenesis”. Excesses of omega-6 EFA’s also promote high blood levels of estradiol. High circulating estrogen levels in the blood tend to increase insulin levels and this reduces blood sugar. Low blood sugar leads to irritability and this is one of the main problems with PMS. Thus, excess omega-6 EFA in the diet is linked to estrogen dominance, hyperinsulinemia, PMS and many other diseases.
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