Advantages of High Oleic Sunflower Oil

If you're looking for an alternative to olive oil for everyday use, high oleic sunflower oil is among the better options.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
2-minute read

Olive oil prices are up, thanks to a combination of drought and disease in the olive oil producing nations of Spain and Italy. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to use as your everyday oil, high oleic sunflower oil is among the better options. It's pressed from sunflowers that have been bred to be high in monounsaturated fat (MUFA), which is the primary type of fat found in olives and avocados.

What Do Monounsaturated Fats Do?

In addition to its well-known heart-protective properties, some researchers theorize that monounsaturated fats might be slightly less “fattening” than other types of fat because the body metabolizes and stores them differently. 

In fact, high oleic sunflower oil is higher in MUFA than olive oil or any other cooking oil. It's also among the lowest in polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), which offers several advantages:

  • Oils that are low in PUFA are more stable at room temperature and less likely to oxidize and become rancid. See also: How to Store Oils  
  • Low PUFA oils are also more stable at high heat, so they are less likely to produce harmful compounds (HNE) during cooking. Note: The tendency of an oil to produce HNE is not a factor of its smoke point, but of its PUFA content. See also: Which Oils Are Best for Cooking?  
  • Oils that are low in PUFA are also, by definition, low in omega-6 fats. See also: Does the Ratio of Omega-6 Fats Really Matter?

HIgh oleic sunflower oil has a very neutral taste, which may be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you're using it.  You might want to keep a small bottle of good olive oil on hand for those times when you want that a more pronounced flavor. See also: How to Tell If Your Olive Oil is Authentic

Oils High in Monounsaturated Fats

Interested in more details? Here's an expanded chart with sorting options.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.