For many years, sunflower oil has been thought of as the least healthy oil for cooking because of its low smoking point (107 degrees Celsius Unrefined  ) and its association with fried foods. Besides, this oil has always had a bad reputation, because of the common saying that “oils make you fat.” Which, by the way, is a totally not true.
However, when people realized that palm oil is actually is the most unhealthy cooking fat, the interest in evidence-based characteristics of sunflower oil increased tremendously. And we started wondering if it is as bad as people think!
This article will reveal the truth about if sunflower oil is unhealthy, or beneficial to our wellbeing, and why!
Let’s dive in!
The health characteristics of sunflower oil are strongly dependant on whether it is high, medium, or low oleic.
Table of Contents
High-oleic sunflower oil
Those oils are defined by their essential characteristic: high oleic acid content (over 70%).  This acid is naturally found in different vegetables, seeds, and nuts and is classified as monounsaturated fatty acid (omega 9).
Evidence suggests that monounsatirated fatty acid can be associated with various health benefits  :
- Lower risk for the development of inflammatory diseases.
- Improved brain health and concentration
- Tissue recovery support (wounds, cuts, organ and skin damage)
- Immune system support
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- Improved cholesterol profile (Lower LDL and improved HDL cholesterol)
In fact, this oil is not only rich in omega 9, but also omega 3 fatty acids. Furthermore, it has low saturated fat content,
Another aspect of high oleic sunflower oil is that it’s heat stable. In other words, the oil molecules don’t “break” easily when heated to a high temperature. This makes high oleic sunflower oil comparable to palm oil in terms of frying safety and performance. 
Mid-oleic sunflower oils
This is the type of sunflower oil that is most popular on the market, as it has long shelf life (2 years after opening) and very high smoke point, which makes it a very good option for frying. 
It has moderate oleic acid content, and may provide your body with relatively sufficient amount of omega 3 and 9 fatty acids.  Besides, this oil is unlikely to go off easily. Yet, in the long term consumption, it doesn’t provide us with the full health benefits of high-oleic oils.
Mid-oleic sunflower oil is considered to have less health benefits than the high-oleic one, as it has higher saturated fat content, which is associated with increased total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, increased risk of heart disease, and stroke. 
Low oleic sunflower oil (Linoleic oils)
These oils are poor in omega 3 and 9, but rich in omega 6 fatty acids (also referred to as Linoleic acid).  Taking into account that the consumption of these fatty acids should be balanced, the excess consumption of linoleic sunflower oil may pose significant risks related to heart and nervous system health. 
In fact, according to the guidelines suggested by a 2004 paper published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, the optimal ratio between omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids consumption should be about, 3:1:1. However, as linoleic oils are unlikely to supply you with this fatty acid balance, it can be a good idea to consume them with additional omega 3 sources.
What to consider
Sunflower oil may provide you with various healthy properties, depending on its type! You can see whether your sunflower oil is high, mid, or low oleic by checking the label of your oil bottle.