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Ask Tufts Experts August 2017 Issue

Q. What is high-oleic sunflower oil? I have been seeing it on labels.

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts' HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, explains: "High-oleic sunflower oil is a type of plant oil made from sunflower seeds that have been conventionally bred to be high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) and low in linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid). There is a minimum of 80% oleic acid in high-oleic sunflower oil. In comparison, traditional sunflower oil has less oleic acid (around 20%) and more linoleic acid. Both high-oleic and traditional sunflower oils are low in saturated fatty acids. Either type of sunflower oil is a good choice from a cardiovascular standpoint, but the traditional oil is less commonly sold in stores or used by the food industry.

"Because oleic acid has fewer double bonds in its chemical structure than linoleic acid, high-oleic sunflower oil is less susceptible to oxidation (which can result in rancidity) than traditional sunflower oil. So, high-oleic sunflower oil is more stable when used for cooking (including high-heat, deep frying used by food companies), and products made with it have a longer shelf life."

To learn more: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, May 2017

To learn more: National Sunflower Association

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