According to Greek myth, the sunflower originated from a story of unrequited love: a water nymph named Clytie fell in love with Apollo, the god of the sun; she would spend her days with her face upturned, watching him drive his chariot of fire across the heavens. Apollo never acknowledged her love, instead in love with another nymph named Daphne who ironically did not return his love in turn. Clytie continued to watch Apollo as he passed through the sky, sitting on a rock for nine days without food and water—at which point, another Greek god took pity on her and transformed Clytie into a flower. To this day, this type of the flower—the sunflower—unfurls in the sunlight and keeps its face upturned to the sun from the moment it rises until the moment it sets.
Retaining these legendary virtues of faith and devotion, organic sunflower oil—extracted from the seeds of sunflowers—has proven itself to be a steadfast and impressive source of beneficial minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Brimming with linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid, this oil also contains commendable quantities of Vitamins A, D, and E, as well as carotenoids and tocopherols. Its nutritious composition renders it as one of the most valuable oils both for consumption and topical application.
The Tin Man’s Dream Come True: A Healthy Heart!
The Tin Man from the land of Oz wanted nothing more than a heart—it was a given, of course, that he’d want a spectacular one, brimming with health and compassion and vitality. Given his long and difficult ordeal to obtain his prize—and his ultimate realization that he carried compassion and tenderness within him after all and all along—we’re sure that he would do his utmost to maintain his verified heart and keep it healthy. As the end credits roll across the screen at the end of The Wizard of Oz, we strongly suspect that he’s chugging down a bit of organic sunflower oil behind the scenes.
Given its wealth of vitamins in combination to its rich levels of therapeutic phytochemicals such as choline and phenolic acid, organic sunflower oil is a surefire piece in the puzzle of maintaining optimal cardiovascular health, helping to lower the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks. With minimal levels of saturated fat—brimming instead with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—it has long been hailed as one of the healthier oils found within the kitchen. Whether you drizzle it upon a delicious salad (if the oil is unrefined) or set it sizzling in the frying pan (only if refined), you will reap the benefits either way, although much more so by using the unrefined version of sunflower oil.
- For a simple and scrumptious sunflower oil vinaigrette: Simply mix together 1 tsp. Dijon mustard +3 tbs. vinegar (apple cider or white wine, according to taste) + 2 tsp. pure maple syrup or honey; slowly add ½ cup of organic sunflower oil until emulsified; add salt and pepper to taste. You can drizzle on your salad and serve immediately or refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.[i]
- For mouthwatering pancakes: Mix 1 ¼ cup flour + 1 tbsp. baking powder + 3 tbsp. sugar + pinch of salt; add 1 cup (almond) milk + 1 tbsp. sunflower oil + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp. cinnamon and mix; spoon ¼ cup of the mix into non-stick pick and cook on low heat until bubbles begin to form; flip and cook the other side. Serve and enjoy with your choice of syrup and toppings![ii]
Shed Those Dragon Scales: Rejuvenated Skin & Stronger Hair
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, “after topical application, vitamin E accumulates not only in cell membranes but also in the extracellular lipid matrix of the stratum corneum, where vitamin E contributes to antioxidant defenses.”[iii] They also stress that Vitamin E is best absorbed through the skin on a regular basis as it is easily lost; since constant topical applications have been shown to drastically improve the skin’s photoprotective resilience against sun exposure, given that the primary role of vitamin E in the skin is to prevent damage induced by cancer-causing free radicals and other highly reactive chemicals that can cause damaging modifications (reactive oxygen species). In particular, sunflower oil reigns as one of the top home remedies for colon cancer.[iv] Organic sunflower oil is lightweight and easily absorbed, hydrating the skin with immediately results without unpleasant repercussions.[v]
Naturally, what’s outstanding for your skin is similarly beneficial for your hair. Just as it will moisturize and condition the rest of your skin, organic sunflower oil is excellent for the health of your scalp; for added benefits, gently massage it into your skin as you do your regular shampoo or conditioner, rubbing your skin gently in circular motions to improve the blood circulation and help with the oil’s absorption into your skin, helping to keep at bay the double menace of dry skin and brittle hair.[vi] Studies have proven that the use of natural oils inherently improve the health of hair given their basic essential minerals and vitamins; sunflower oil is no exception. Abundant in iron, calcium, potassium, and a spectrum of vitamins, it serves as a rich conditioner that will soften and strengthen your locks, making them smoother and shinier with each application while further stimulating growth.
- To fight acne and wrinkles: apply sunflower oil directly to the skin by dabbing a bit on a cotton pad—as you would a toner—and gently smoothing it onto your face.
- As a facial mask: Mix 1 cup plain Greek yogurt + 3 tbsp. sunflower oil + 2 tsp. lemon juice; leave on for 20 minutes and then rinse. You get a triple benefit of moisturized skin (due to the oil), dissolved dead skin cells (thanks, yogurt!), and a brightened complexion (from the lemon juice).[vii]
- As a weekly deep conditioner: massage sunflower oil against your scalp, from your pores to the tips of your hair to help smooth the hair shaft and prevent breakage and frizz; comb through the hair to the ends, wrap it up into a towel and leave it for at least an hour (or, better yet, overnight); rinse out thoroughly.
A Balm for the Burn: Reduced Inflammation
Sunflower oil is a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory elements, thereby curbing excess inflammation and helping to restore the body’s natural balance. The main ingredient in this particular success is tryptophan, which—just like the essential amino acid methionine, also secreted in organic sunflower oil—is known to numb pain and act as a mild pain reliever. Several doctors—including Dr. James A. Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy—maintain that it’s as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) for controlling inflammation. It has also been proven to reduce arthritis and asthma.
Organic sunflower seed oil’s medicinal purposes have long been practiced worldwide. Physicians used it to treat dysentery, psoriasis, and even kidney disorders, with the sunflower stem’s pith prized for relieving inflammation. Native Americans used it a tincture of sunflowers to treat everything from lung disease, fever, and chest pain to rheumatism, sprains, and snake bites.[viii]
Kindle the Fire Within: Pumped Up Immune System + Energy
Just one tablespoon of organic sunflower oil equates to 5.6 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol, a form of fat-soluble vitamin E that has powerful antioxidant properties and does wonders for your immune system. And whereas saturated fats are a toxic catalyst to feeling sluggish, healthy unsaturated fats are key for boosting your energy. Given its rich supply of proteins, organic sunflower oil is also essential for building and repairing tissues and producing enzymes.
The Essence of Balance…
Sunflower oil is also chock-full in Omega6 fatty acids, which is healthy in moderate doses; remember that you can always have too much of a good thing. Pay special attention to choosing quality over quantity, knowing that you do get what you pay for. At all costs, avoid hydrogenated and even partially hydrogenated vegetable fats, as these contain the arguably worst type of fat (trans fat), and ensure that you are purchasing top-quality organic sunflower oil. As with any sort of food, remember that excessive consumption can ensue in sensitization and other side effects, especially with a product that contains this much fat (albeit the healthier kind).