Can I substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil? 

In this article, we will answer the question “Can I substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?”, and what are the benefits of these substitutions.

Can I substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?

Yes, you can substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil. It is the main ingredient for several vegetable oils and carries a milder taste in comparison to vegetable oil. Thus, it can easily be substituted without any significant change in the taste of the dish or recipe.

What are the main differences between sunflower oil and vegetable oil?

Sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower seeds. It has a mild taste and a high smoke point and is perfect for deep frying, roasting or stir-frying.

Sunflower oil is a nutrient-dense oil and is rich in powerful antioxidants like VItamin E that help protect cellular help and boost immunity. It also provides ample amounts of phytochemicals and phenolic acid and is trans-fat free. 

Sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and plays an important role in lowering LDL cholesterol to promote heart health (4).

Vegetable oil is extracted from the seeds of fruits and other plant parts like bran. Store-bought vegetable oil is usually a blend of different oils like soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, etc, providing little knowledge on the product origin and processing techniques.

A fully-refined oil will have the following characteristics which represent maximum values unless indicated otherwise: free acid (0.05%), trans acids for oils free of linolenic acid (0.5%) and oils containing linolenic acid, such as soybean and rapeseed oils (1.0%), moisture (0.05%), peroxide (0.5%), total metals (0.1 ppm), and smoke point (220°C minimum) as a consequence of the low level of free acid (2).

Vegetable oils are converted into margarine by partial hydrogenation of the unsaturated fats present in vegetable oils. The resulting hydrogenated product is more resistant to rancidity and much stable at room temperature.

What are the advantages of using sunflower oil in the place of vegetable oil?

The advantages of using sunflower oil in place of vegetable oil is that sunflower oil is extracted exclusively from sunflower and thus maintains the characteristics expected from a pure sunflower oil.

As mentioned earlier in the article, vegetable oil is a blend which may consist of any one or a combination of the following types of oils: canola (rapeseed), corn (maize), cottonseed, olive (refined), safflower, soybean, sesame, sunflower. Therefore, you don’t know the composition of the blended oil, unless it is specified. 

In addition, sunflower oil is related to many health benefits, which are discussed in the following session of the article.

What are the benefits of using sunflower oil?

There are some health benefits of using sunflower oil, which are related to its composition. 

Sunflower oil contains vitamin E, which stimulates the immune system, acts in the prevention and treatment of heart disease such as coronary thrombosis and heart stroke and is a potent antioxidant, preventing the damage caused by  reactive species, such as  cancer, thrombosis and mutation (1).

Sunflower oil is composed of 63-75% linoleic acid, belonging to the n-6 family, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid. Clinical studies suggest that conjugated linolenic acid has antithrombotic and immune-modulating effects and contributes to the formation of lean mass of muscles.

It contains traces of the polyunsaturated fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 precursor. However, the human body has a limited capacity to synthesize omega-3 fatty acids from alpha linolenic acid, and the healthy benefits deriving from sunflower oil are much lower in content than those obtained with consumption of fish oil.

What are the disadvantages of using sunflower oil in the place of vegetable oil?

The disadvantage of using sunflower oil in the place of vegetable oil is the price. Pure sunflower oil is more expensive than blended cooking vegetable oil.

In addition, due to regulations, vegetable oil is fortified with vitamin D and vitamin A, in the rates of 20 mg/kg (66,660 IU/kg) vitamin A and 0.23 mg/kg (9600 IU/kg) vitamin D (6). These are important liposoluble vitamins which are not contained in the pure sunflower oil.

Another disadvantage is the shorter shelf life of the sunflower oil. At room temperature and unopened, the shelf life of sunflower oil is 12 months (3) while the shelf life of vegetable oil is 18 months (5).

Other FAQs about Oils which you may be interested in.

Does sesame oil go bad?

Can you use olive oil in a cake mix?

How much butter to replace vegetable oil?

Can I fry with vegetable oil?


In this article, we answered the question “Can I substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?”, and what are the other substitutes for vegetable oil?


  1. Franco, Rosa, Luca Iseppi, and Mario Taverna. Sunflower oil functional properties for specialty food. Nutr Food Sci Int J, 2018, 5, 4-7.. 
  2. Gunstone, Frank. The chemistry of oils and fats: sources, composition, properties and uses. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.  
  3. FoodKeeper data. United States Department of Agriculture.  
  4. Gupta, Antima, et al. Oilseed as potential functional food Ingredient.Trends & Prospects in Food Technology, Processing and Preservation, 1st ed.; Prodyut Kumar, P., Mahawar, MK, Abobatta, W., Panja, P., Eds. 2018, 25-58.
  5. Van Laanen, Peggy. Safe home food storage. Texas FARMER Collection. 2002.
  6. Commodity requirements vegetable oil. 2022. United States Department of Agriculture.

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