Is olive oil or sunflower oil healthier?
Two of the most popular and most consumed oils are olive oil and sunflower oil . The first is considered a very healthy food, which is part of the Mediterranean diet; however, the second does not enjoy the same popularity.
Is sunflower oil really bad? What are the properties of these oils? In this article we will answer these questions and go into more detail about their benefits.
Differences between olive oil and sunflower oil
Sunflower oil and olive oil are the best known types of vegetable oil, and although people think that the former is only used for cooking and the latter is only ideal for salads, the truth is that sunflower oil can also be eaten raw, which is where all its benefits lie.
How are these oils obtained? The first is obtained from sunflower seeds, when they are crushed; the second is obtained from crushing olives. At present, it is possible to find different varieties of oils and their types in the supermarket, for example, extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil. Olive oil enjoys greater popularity and status than sunflower oil, mainly because the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest and most balanced in existence, and some varieties of olive oil are called “green gold”, as if they were a treasure of nature.
What is virgin and extra virgin olive oil
Within the varieties of olive oil not all have the same status, value, price and quality. In fact, it is possible to differentiate between virgin and extra virgin olive oil.
The main difference between the two oils lies in their method of extraction , in the degrees of fermentation to which the raw material is exposed. To obtain both oils, traditional and mechanical extraction methods are used, but the extra virgin is categorised as being of higher quality, with a fermentation rate that must not exceed 0.8 degrees centigrade and the tasting note does not fall below 6.5.
Virgin olive oil is not of such high quality and exquisiteness, as its fermentation can take place at 2 degrees centigrade and its tasting note is 5.5 for its quality certificate.
- If you want to know more about the difference between both types of olive oil, you can read our article: “Differences between virgin and extra virgin olive oil”
Olive or sunflower oil is best
No doubt, olive oil is a very nutritious food, but… isn’t sunflower oil? Why does this oil enjoy such a bad reputation? Sunflower oil has such a bad reputation because it is an oil that, unlike olive oil, does not withstand the high temperatures of cooking so well and therefore burns first, expelling substances that do not benefit the body at all.
However, sunflower oil, eaten raw, is just as beneficial as olive oil, and both are loaded with nutrients, most notably polyunsaturated fats, known as good fats. In the case of sunflower oil, it is rich in fatty acids, the most important of which is linoleic acid. Vitamin E is also present in large quantities. Olive oil, in addition to other nutrients, also contains vitamin E and oleic acid.
Benefits of sunflower oil
Sunflower oil has a number of benefits for the body. It has anti-inflammatory effects so it is ideal for those who suffer from arthritis or premenstrual syndrome. It also helps to keep the heart healthy, as it is a great source of healthy fats and beneficial phytosterols. In this sense, improves circulation and reduces the risk of suffering heart attacks . Good fats help balance blood sugar levels, and together with phytosterols, they lower bad cholesterol.
Sunflower oil also protects the body’s cells from cancer caused by free radicals. Thanks to vitamin E, it helps prevent diseases such as asthma, rheumatic arthritis and colon cancer. This vitamin has a moisturizing effect that helps the cells to retain water, which is why it is used in cosmetic products. Studies suggest that vitamin E helps protect against Parkinson’s disease. You can learn more about this condition in our article: “Parkinson’s: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention”
If the oil is not ingested and is applied directly to the skin, it moisturizes it forming a protective barrier preventing moisture from escaping. When applied directly to the skin, it also helps fight infections such as fungus. Its high content of Zinc also makes it a food that improves sexual performance .
Benefits of olive oil
As you can see, sunflower oil has many properties and benefits. And… in the case of olive oil? It has antibacterial properties and is particularly effective against Helicobacter pylori , a type of bacteria that can cause ulcers and stomach cancer. It therefore improves the health of the stomach and digestive system, and increases the body’s pH because it promotes the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
It helps reduce joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis, which is increased in combination with the intake of omega-3 rich fish. The polyphenols it contains promote the birth of new neurons, and studies suggest that it helps increase cognitive functions, metabolic functions and causes greater brain development.
It prevents diabetes because of its beneficial effects on blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. Improves skin health because it contains anti-aging agents and nutrients that combat osteoporosis and skin damage. It also prevents Alzheimer’s, heart disease and improves the immune system. Finally, it helps you lose weight through healthy fats and reduces cholesterol.
- If you want to know more about the benefits of green gold, you can read our article: “13 benefits and properties of olive oil”