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Why Safflower and Sunflower Oils Are Good for Your Health

Healthy Cooking Oils: Page 2

By , Caring.com senior editor
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The oil from sunflower seeds and its lesser-known relative the safflower are high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, the ratio you want in heart-healthy oils. According to the American heart and diabetes associations, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have important health benefits as a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids. The problem comes with the tendency of omega-6 fatty acids to unbalance even more important omega-3 fatty acids.

Best for: Sautéing and Frying
Safflower and sunflower oils have a higher "smoke point" (the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke) than olive oil, making them good choices for cooking over high heat. Once an oil begins to smoke, the omega-3 acids begin to break down and turn to unhealthy trans-fatty acids. Chose those labeled "high-oleic," which are healthier and can withstand higher heat without smoking.

Myth: Oils Go Bad Quickly When Exposed to Air
It's true as far as it goes: Oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), like safflower, sunflower, and canola oil, can become oxidized when exposed to oxygen or heat, at which point they can be bad for you. However, most of us keep our oils capped, and most of the cooking oils sold in grocery stories are refined by processes that prevent oxidation and raise the cooking potential. One exception is when frying on high heat, when it's a good idea to use peanut oil.