sunflower oil is favored for its mild flavor and low smoke point.

Sunflower Oil

What is Sunflower Oil?

Sunflower oil is a liquid fat from pressed sunflower seeds. It is rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic and linoleic acids. It is low in saturated fatty acids such as palmitic and stearic acids.

In the baking industry, sunflower oil is favored for its mild flavor and low smoke point (232 oC/450 oF). It can be incorporated into cakes, breads, pizzas, cookies and muffins. It is also used in deep frying, salad dressings and margarines and shortenings.1 Three types have been developed through plant breeding and commercialized:1

  • High linoleic (69% linoleic acid)
  • Mid- oleic (65% oleic acid)
  • High oleic (>80% oleic acid)


Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) domestication is attributed to the Americas region mainly Mexico and Southern U.S. Around 1510, the plant was introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers. The evolution of the sunflower seed as an oil crop was developed in Russia in the late 1800’s. By the mid 19th century, sunflower seed was reintroduced to North America.1 Today, sunflower oil is mostly produced by Russia, Ukraine and Argentina.


Sunflower oil serves several purposes in baked goods:2

  • Tenderizing and lubrication: by coating structure building components (gluten, starch and egg proteins), it prevents them from hydrating and building structures.
  • Moistness, softness and extensibility: by lubricating structure builders, it creates the sensation of moistness and softness and provides dough stretchiness.
  • Prevents staling: by retarding starch retrogradation and gelatinization.
  • Flavor: provides a mild flavor without interfering with the baked product's own flavors.
  • Color: indirectly by increasing heat necessary for baking and subsequent increase in the rate of browning.
  • Smoothness: by interfering with and disrupting sugar crystallization.
  • Flavor carrier: many flavor compounds are dissolved in sunflower oil to help disperse them.
  • Release agent: aids in the removal of baked goods from molds.


Oleic, linoleic and linolenic content of the three main types of sunflower oils can be found in the following table:1

Oil type Oleic Linoleic Linolenic
Linoleic 18.7% 67.5% 0.8%
Mid- linoleic 60.4 30.6 -
High oleic 81.3 9.0 -

Smaller amounts of palmitic,...

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