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 Essential Oils
Juniper Oil
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Sunflower Seed Oil
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Ostrich oil
 
 
 
 

 
Sunflower Seed Oil

Notable for turning to face the Sun, a behavior known as heliotropism, the Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) was first cultivated by Native Americans well over 1000 years ago. The pale yellow, delicately flavored sunflower seed oil extracted from the seeds of this flower has a bounty of calcium and other 11 important minerals. There are approximately 67 species and 19 subspecies of sunflowers growing in the wild and in ditches across North America.

The pale yellow, delicately flavored sunflower-seed oil extracted from the seeds is very high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. This oil is used for cooking (but is less cardiohealthy than olive oil), as a carrier oil, and to produce biodiesel. Interestingly, as per the Greek mythology, a girl named Clytie fell in love with the sun god Apollo, and would do nothing but watch his chariot move across the sky. After nine days, she was transformed into a sunflower. However, the word "sunflower" and its cognates existed long before Helianthus annuus was brought to Europe, and it is thought that the myth (which is mentioned in Ovid's poem Metamorphoses) actually refers to heliotrope or marigold.
 

History of Sunflower
The native to North America where it was used in dyes, food preparation and medicines, sunflower cultivation has now spread throughout the world. It was developed as an oilseed crop in Russia during the late 1800s. Currently, Europe and the USSR produce over 60% of the world's Sunflowers.
Originating in the genus Helianthus (in Greek "helios" means "Sun" and "anthos" means "flower"), which contains about 67 species, it is believed to have been domesticated around 1000 B.C. With presence of 39 - 40 % oil in the seeds, sunflower seed oil is generally considered as a premium oil because of its light color, high level of unsaturated fatty acids, and lack of linolenic acid, bland flavor, and high smoke points.

The Native Americans used the sunflower seed oil for cooking, to soften leather, as a salve, and as a hair conditioner. Today, this state flower of Kansas is cultivated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Argentina, the US and parts of Africa such as Egypt. The sunflower (Helianthus annus) is a member of the Asteraceae family (sunflower family), also known as the Compositae family. Many other useful plants belong to this family, such as echinacea, lettuce, marigolds, dandelion, chicory, and thistle.

 

Oil Extraction
Sunflower seeds are both eaten whole and pressed to produce sunflower oil. There are two types of sunflower seeds being produced-- oilseed and confectionery. About 95% of world production is the oilseed type and only 5% the confectionery type. The major ingredients of sunflower seed oil are Palmitic acid (4 - 9%), Stearic acid (1 - 7%), Oleic acid (14 - 40%), Linoleic acid and (48 - 74%). It also contains lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids and waxes and has a high Vitamin E content.

Being an ideal combination of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels, sunflower seed oil is a rich energy source. It is extracted from pressing the black seeds as well as the entire head of the sunflower, yields the highest pure quantity. Further, the oil is refined and filtered. Sunflower oil exhibits waxy deposits at lower temperatures and requires winterisation before bottling. The byproduct called sunflower seed cake or meal which is high in protein, is used for livestock feed.

 

Applicable Benefits
The oil extracted from sunflower seeds remains an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, phosphorus, and zinc. It also contains very good amounts of selenium, folate, iron, potassium, and calcium. Having abundant sources of vitamin E, B1, B5 & B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin; the oil also contains traces of Vitamin C & A. There are numerous health and other benefits that are directly related to regular usage of sunflower seed oil:

  • Sunflower seeds helps in preventing hearth disorders, lower cholesterol levels, asthma, high blood presuure, migraine, headaches, indigestion and inflammations related to bones.
  • Sunflower seed oil can be used in cosmetic formulations and appears to have skin health benefits. It also helps to retain moisture in the skin like many other oils, but also may also form a barrier that resists infection over the skin.
  • Sunflower seeds oil is also used in the manufacture of margarine, but due to the controvery surrounding the use of hydrogenation in the manufacturing process, choose a non-hydrogenated brand of margarine if you buy it.
  • Sunflower seed oil is one of the healthiest and popular oils in the world. It is often considered a premium oil due to its light color, mild flavour, low level of saturated fat and ability to withstand high cooking temperatures. It is an excellent household oil great for both baking and frying, even as a salad oil.
  • Native Americans used this oil as a medicine to ease chest pain, decrease water retention, expel worms, improve eyesight, and provide energy. It was believed that a brave Indian could travel farther on a pouch of sunflower meal than on any other food.
 
Future Benefits
Sunflower seeds oil has been researched as a potential diesel substitute, with its energy being equivalent to 93% of # 2 U.S. diesel fuel. In the near future, sunflower seed oil could also become a renewable bio-source for hydrogen. Further, this oil is also processed and used as lubricants in machinery, including automobiles. Additionally, experiments have shown that sunflower oil could be turned into plastic materials such as vinyl and latex.
 
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