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    Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil compressed from sunflower (Helianthus annuus) seeds. Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient. Sunflower oil was first industrially produced in 1835 in the Russian Empire. The world's largest sunflower oil producers now are Ukraine and Russia.

    Sunflower oil is a monounsaturated (MUFA)/polyunsaturated (PUFA) mixture of mostly oleic acid (omega-9)-linoleic acid (omega-6) group of oils. The oil content of the seed ranges from 22 to 36% (average, 28%): the kernel contains 45–55% oil. The expressed oil is of light amber color with a mild and pleasant flavor; refined oil is pale yellow. Refining losses are low and the oil has good keeping qualities with light tendency for flavor reversion. The oil contains appreciable quantities of vitamins A, D, and E, sterols, squalene, and other aliphatic hydrocarbons, terpene and methyl ketones (chiefly methyl nonyl ketone).


    As a frying oil, sunflower oil behaves as a typical vegetable triglyceride. In cosmetics, it has smoothing properties and is considered noncomedogenic. Only the high oleic variety possesses shelf life sufficient for commercial cosmetic formulation. Sunflower oil's INCI name is Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil. Sunflower oil is also an ingredient in sunflower butter. Sunflower oil can be used to run diesel engines when mixed with diesel in the tank.


    Several varieties of sunflower oilseeds have been developed by standard (non-GMO) plant breeding methods. The original oilseed was high in linoleic acid (LA), a polyunsaturated ω-6 fatty acid. A premium high oleic acid strain, a monounsaturated ω-9 fatty acid, was developed in the late twentieth century. Early in the 21st century, a mid-oleic strain marketed as Nu-Sun was introduced as an improved frying oil that would have a low level of saturated fat, but would not require hydrogenation. These three major strains differ greatly[clarification needed] in their levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. There are also minor differences in their saturated fat content.


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