Through its high content of vitamin E, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, sunflower oil is able to offer good protection against heart and coronary diseases. In order to achieve this goal, the nutrients contained by sunflower oil lower blood cholesterol levels, dilate blood vessels and increase the number of red blood cells.
Types of Sunflower Oil
Among the types of sunflower oil that are available on the market, two of them are more popular: high oleic and linoleic sunflower oil. The latter is frequently used for cooking, includes high amounts of polyunsaturated fat and low levels of trans fat. High oleic sunflower oil, on the other hand, is rich in monounsaturated fats, which in many cases exceed 80 percent of the composition of sunflower oil. Both these types of essential fatty acids have cardiovascular benefits.
In order to maximize the heart protective effect of sunflower oil, you need to replace the sources of saturated fats from your diets with this particular oil. In other words, this means that foods of animal origin, as well as vegetable oils rich in saturated fats, should be avoided.
Healthy Fats Contained by Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil contains low amounts of saturated fats, while abounding in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Palm oil and palm kernel oil do not contain cholesterol, but through their high content of saturated fats, they increase blood cholesterol levels, thus leading to serious cardiovascular problems.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, are able to lower blood cholesterol levels. The total fat intake needs to be maintained between 25 and 35 percent of calories, and most of this amount should be represented by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
It is essential to keep blood cholesterol levels low, because otherwise plaque forms on the walls of the blood vessels. As a consequence, blood circulation will not be performed normally and the risk of stroke increases dramatically.
Vitamin E and Heart Diseases
As mentioned before, sunflower oil contains a significant amount of vitamin E. According to several studies conducted in the USA and in Finland, when taking vitamin E, the risk for coronary heart disease drops by 30 to 40 percent, and the death rate from heart disease also becomes lower.
Vitamin E also influences the red blood cell count. As these cells are responsible for transporting the oxygen to the other cells of the body, it is obvious why a high red blood cell count is so important. Besides that, red blood cells release ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and S-nitrosothiols, two compounds that dilate blood vessels. This way, the blood will be able to flow normally to the areas of the body that do not get enough oxygen.
Trimethylglycine and Cardiovascular Diseases
TMG (Trimethylglycine), also known as betaine, represents an organic compound found in sunflower seeds and to some extent, in sunflower oil. This compound stops the synthesis of a sulfuric amino acid called homocysteine that is involved in the development of such diseases as arterial or venous thrombosis and coronary disease.