Difference Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil

The main difference between sunflower oil and safflower oil is that sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower (Helianthus spp.) seeds whereas safflower oil is extracted from safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) seeds.

Sunflower oil and safflower oil are two types of vegetable oils with fewer amounts of saturated fatty acids. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids that contain more than one double-bonded carbons within the same molecule. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Sunflower Oil
     – Definition, Facts, Varieties
2. What is Safflower Oil
     – Definition, Facts, Varieties
3. What are the Similarities Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil
     – Comparison of Common Features

Key Terms: Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Safflower Oil, Saturated Fat, Sunflower Oil

Difference Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil - Comparison Summary

What is Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil refers to the pale yellow color fatty oil pressed from the seeds of the sunflower. Actually, the sunflower is not a single flower, but a cluster of hundreds of tiny flowers. The oil is extracted from the tiny seeds by steam extraction. Sunflower oil consists of a high smoke point of 450 °F. Hence, it is good for frying and baking. Also, it contains a considerable content of vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. Unrefined sunflower oil with sunflower inflorescence is shown in figure 1.

Difference Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil

Figure 1: Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a mixture of oleic acid (omega-9) and linoleic acid (omega-6). It is commercially available in three varieties;

  1. Linoleic sunflower oil – It is the original form of sunflower oil, containing lower levels of saturated fatty acids. The unsaturated fatty acids are 65% in it and it is rich in omega-6.
  2. High oleic sunflower oil – It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. This type of sunflower oil can be used for baking and salad dressing. Also, it contains lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
  3. Mild oleic sunflower oil – It is called Nu-Sun and contains lower saturated fat levels than linoleic sunflower and higher oleic levels.

What is Safflower Oil

Safflower oil refers to the edible oil obtained from the seeds of the safflower. Flower heads of the safflower are globular and the flowers are red, orange or yellow in color. Each flower head contains 15-20 seeds. Safflower oil is colorless and flavorless. Also, it is nutritionally very similar to sunflower oil. It contains a considerable amount of antioxidants that keep the oil fresh for a considerable time.

Main Difference - Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil

Figure 2: Safflower

Safflower oil has two varieties that are very low in saturated fat;

  1. Linoleic variety – It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  2. Oleic variety – It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.

Similarities Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil

  • Sunflower oil and safflower oil are vegetable oils used for cooking.
  • They are seed oils obtained by steam extraction.
  • Both oils are light yellow in color.
  • Both have a high smoke point.
  • They do not impart a taste to the food.
  • They contain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • These oils are better for cardiovascular health.
  • Both oils are rich in vitamin E.
  • Both oils are bad for Drizzling or low-heat cooking.
  • Exposure to heat, light, and air make the oils rancid.
  • Both sunflower and safflower plants belong to the family Asteraceae.
  • Both plants contain golden-yellow to orange petals, upright stalks, and rough green leaves.

Difference Between Sunflower Oil and Safflower Oil

Definition

Sunflower Oil: Pale yellow color fatty oil pressed from the seeds of the sunflower

Safflower Oil:  Edible oil obtained from the seeds of the safflower

Extracted From

Sunflower Oil: Sunflower seed

Safflower Oil: Safflower seed

Scientific Name of the Plant

Sunflower Oil: Helianthus spp.

Safflower Oil: Carthamus tinctorius

Flower

Sunflower Oil: Has an open disk-shaped flower

Safflower Oil: Has a tight, green ball-shaped base topped with a tuft of colorful petals

Saturated Fatty Acids

Sunflower Oil: ~10%

Safflower Oil: 7.5%

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Sunflower Oil: 45.4% (linoleic) and 83.7% (oleic)

Safflower Oil: 75.2%

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Sunflower Oil: 40.1% (linoleic) and 3.8% (oleic)

Safflower Oil: 12.8%

Varieties

Sunflower Oil: High linoleic, high oleic, and mild oleic

Safflower Oil: Linoleic and oleic

Good For

Sunflower Oil: Frying, margarine, salad dressings, and baking

Safflower Oil: Deep-frying, searing, stir-frying, margarine, and mayonnaise

Significance

Sunflower Oil: Contains a considerable amount of vitamin E

Safflower Oil: Contains a considerable amount of antioxidants

Conclusion

Sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower seeds while safflower oil is extracted from safflower seeds. Both types of oils are rich in unsaturated fats; hence, they are healthier to use as cooking oils. The main difference between sunflower oil and safflower oil is the origin of each type of oil.

Reference:

1. “Sunflower Oil: When It’s Healthy and When It’s Not.” The Healthy Home Economist, 25 Jan. 2018, 
2. “Safflower Oil: A Healthier Cooking Oil.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 

Image Courtesy:

1. “” By – Published on   via
2. “Safflower” Copyrighted free use, via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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