Can you substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?”, and how long does sunflower oil last?

Can you substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?

Yes, you can substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil. Vegetable oil contains a major portion of sunflower oil along with the other oils to make a blend. 

The buttery and nutty flavor of the sunflower oil, coupled with its sheer consistency is the reason why it is a culinary staple. Sunflower oil is super versatile when it comes to cooking. It can be used for frying, sauteing, grilling, roasting, etc.

Sunflower cultivation plays a key role in edible oil production worldwide, represents an important alternative for crop rotation and provides intercropping and succession in producing regions. In Brazil, sunflower production is concentrated in the second crop, during summer-fall period. The production in 2014/15 crop will reach 189.7 thousand tons and the state of Mato Grosso, the major producer, is responsible for 85% of Brazilian sunflower production (1).

Does sunflower oil have a taste?

Sunflower oil has a mild nutty flavor. Some may describe its flavor as light walnut or unsalted raw sunflower seed with a smooth buttery aftertaste. 

The mild flavor of sunflower oil does not overpower the other flavors in a dish. Unlike pure sunflower oil, refined sunflower oil has a translucent pale yellow color.

Is sunflower oil healthy?

The American Heart Association lists sunflower oil among the most heart-healthy oils. Sunflower seed is a powerhouse of Vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin has excellent antioxidant properties. Vitamin E fights oxidative stress and prevents free radical damage. 

Due to these antioxidant properties, Vitamin E is a popular ingredient in skincare products. If you have a gluten allergy, opt for sunflower oil since the sunflower seed does not contain any gluten.

Sunflower seed containslacks carbs, cholesterol, protein, minerals, vitamins, fibers but low amounts ofor sodium. This makes sunflower seed a top pick for individuals following a sodium-reduced or other restricted diet such as keto. Sunflower oil serves as excellent phenolic antioxidants, which account for about 1%–4% of the total mass chlorogenic acid. It also contains phytosterols, which help in the alteration of cholesterol synthesis, thereby reducing the cholesterol level in the serum through cholesterol excretion (2).

Moreover, sunflower oil is a rich source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce the risk of heart diseases by lowering blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

The oleic acid, also known as the omega-9 fatty acids reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of plaques in the valves and arteries.

How long does sunflower oil last?

An unopened bottle of sunflower oil will last up to 12 yearyears if stored correctly. Store the sunflower oil in a cool and dark place, away from the sources of heat like the direct sunlight and the stovetop. The pantry and the kitchen cabinet are good storage places for sunflower oil. It has been reported that sunflower seeds contained high total phenolic compounds and active components tocopherols, which have been used as a stabilizer of fat-containing foods. This contributes to the high stability and long shelf life of the oil (2). 

To make the sunflower oil last the longest, always buy the freshest sunflower oil from the market. Check the expiration date of the sunflower oil. Pick the bottle with the most distant expiry date.

Once opened, the shelf-life of the sunflower oil slightly reduces. The shelf-life of the sunflower oil varies with the brand and the extraction process used during its manufacturing. The exposure to oxygen and sunlight decreases the shelf life of oil significantly. In a study, the shelf life of sunflower oil was investigated at different storage conditions. Light exposure significantly lowered the shelf-life of sunflower oil. Estimated shelf lives at 20°C were 281 days for light exposed oil, and greater than the 2 years given to sunflower oil sold by most companies in Argentina (3).

Keep the sunflower oil in the fridge after opening to ensure longevity. If the sunflower oil gives off a rancid or soapy taste, discard it. Using spoiled or rancid sunflower oil will ruin the flavor of your food and could make you feel nauseated. 

Should sunflower oil be kept in the fridge?

Onne opened, sunflower oil is best stored in the fridge. It is natural for refrigerated sunflower oil to develop a hazy appearance with a thick consistency. 

Studies show that cold storage condition (4.5°C or 40°F) was successful at retarding the oxidation and hydrolysis level during the storage of olive oil, which, similarly to sunflower oil, contains tocopherol and phenolic compounds and carotenoids, which increase the stability of the oil (4).

This is not an alarming sign and the sunflower oil is fit for consumption. Let the sunflower oil sit on the counter for about 30-40 minutes before use so that it comes back to its natural consistency. 

Is sunflower oil good for baking?

If you are allergic to dairy or canola oils, opt for sunflower oil in baking. The lighter consistency of the sunflower oil does not make your baked podcast dense and greasy. 

In a study, the replacement of shortening with sunflower oil led to a decline of sensory and physical properties of the biscuits. In the case of pastry products, the change from a solid to liquid fat adversely affects quality by increasing the hardness and decreasing the sensory quality. However, the improving awareness of consumers about the health benefits of vegetable oils consumption may foster better nutritional choices even if the quality of products is worse (5).

You can also use sunflower oil for greasing your pots and pans before baking. It does not alter the texture of the finished baked product and prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Possible downsides of sunflower oil for baking 

Sunflower oil is not healthy when used in large quantities. The high linoleic acid sunflower oil has a poor nutritional profile as compared to the one with the high oleic acid content. High linoleic sunflower oil is a reservoir of polyunsaturated fatty acids which is not beneficial from a health point of view. 

There is concern that long-term consumption of large amounts of linoleic acid might increase cancer risk. However, review studies examined the epidemiologic and experimental literature on linoleic acid intake and cancer risk and performed additional meta-analyses of risk estimates from case-control and prospective cohort studies. None of the combined estimates from within-population studies indicated a significantly increased risk of cancer with high compared with low intakes of linoleic acid or polyunsaturated fat (7).

The bottom line is that you can safely use high oleic sunflower oil in baking. But when it comes to using high linoleic sunflower oil in baking, other oils such as canola oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, etc are healthier options.

Several studies have revealed that the fatty acid content in sunflower oil containing high oleic acid positively exhibits much influence on cardiovascular risk factors such as glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and blood pressure and similar effects have also been reported for olive oil, peanut oil, pent seeds, and its derivable products (2).

Can you use sunflower oil instead of vegetable oil fr frying?

Sunflower oil has a high smoke point that lies somewhere between 400-450℉, which is perfect for frying (6). The bonus point is that sunflower oil has a low saturated fat content, which is ideal for deep frying.

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Can you use olive oil in ceramic pans?

Can you make a cake with olive oil?

Can you freeze cooking oil?

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute sunflower oil for vegetable oil?”, and how long does sunflower oil last?

References

  1. Regitano Neto, Amadeu, et al. Environmental effect on sunflower oil quality. Crop Breed Appl Biotechnol, 2016, 16, 197-204.
  2. Adeleke, Bartholomew Saanu, and Olubukola Oluranti Babalola. Oilseed crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a source of food: Nutritional and health benefits. Food Sci Nutr, 2020, 8, 4666-4684.
  3. Ramírez, Guillermo, Guillermo Hough, And Adriana Contarini. Influence of temperature and light exposure on sensory shelf‐life of a commercial sunflower oil. J food qual, 2001, 24, 195-204.
  4. Li, Xueqi, et al. The effect of different cold storage conditions on the compositions of extra virgin olive oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc, 2014, 91, 1559-1570.
  5. Onacik-Gür, Sylwia, Anna Żbikowska, and Aleksandra Jaroszewska. Effect of high-oleic sunflower oil and other pro-health ingredients on physical and sensory properties of biscuits. CyTA-J Food, 2015, 13, 621-628.
  6. Farag, Radwan S., et al. Use of some agricultural waste hull ashes for the regeneration of fried sunflower oil. Int j food sci technol, 2009, 44, 1850-1856.
  7. Zock, Peter L., and Martijn B. Katan. Linoleic acid intake and cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. Am j clin nutr, 1998, 68, 142-153.