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Sunflower Oil – May 2007

Before focusing on Sunflower Oil, we need a brief explanation of the different fats we need in our bodies. All fats and oils, whether of vegetable or animal origin, are some combination of saturated fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega 3).

Some oils are damaged less by frying than others. The oils that contain the lowest amounts of essential fatty acids and the greatest amounts of saturated fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids are less damaged when heated.
Oils least damaged by high temperatures and oxygen are butter; tropical fats (e.g. coconut oil), high oleic sunflower, high oleic safflower, peanut oil, sesame oil and olive oil in that order of preference.

Saturated: A fatty acid is saturated when all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom. They are highly stable, because all the carbon-atom linkages are filled—or saturated—with hydrogen. This means that they
do not normally go rancid, even when heated for cooking purposes. They are straight in form and hence pack together easily, so that they form a solid or semisolid fat at room temperature. Your body makes saturated fatty acids from carbohydrates and they are found in animal fats and tropical oils.

Mono-unsaturated: Mono-unsaturated fatty acids have one double bond in the form of two carbon atoms double-bonded to each other. Your body makes mono-unsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids and uses them in a number of ways. Mono-unsaturated fats have a kink or bend at the position of the double bond so that they do not pack together as easily as saturated fats and, therefore, tend to be liquid at room temperature. Like saturated fats, they are relatively stable. They do not go rancid easily and hence can be used in cooking. The monounsaturated fatty acid most commonly found in our food is oleic acid, the main component of olive oil as well as the oils from almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and avocados.

Polyunsaturated: Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more pairs of double bonds. The two polyunsaturated fatty acids found most frequently in our foods are double unsaturated linoleic acid, with two double bonds—also called omega-6; and linolenic acid, with three double bonds—also called omega-3. Your body cannot make these fatty acids and hence they are called "essential."
We must obtain our essential fatty acids or EFA's from the foods we eat. The polyunsaturated fatty acids have kinks or turns at the position of the double bond and hence do not pack together easily. They are liquid, even when refrigerated. The unpaired electrons at the double bonds make these oils highly reactive. They go rancid easily, particularly omega-3 linolenic acid, and must be treated with care.

In general, animal fats such as butter, lard and tallow contain about 40-60% saturated fat and are solid at room temperature. Vegetable oils from northern climates contain a preponderance of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are liquid at room temperature. But vegetable oils from the tropics are highly saturated. Coconut oil, for example, is 92% saturated. These fats are liquid in the tropics but hard as butter in southern climes. Vegetable oils are more saturated in hot climates because the increased saturation helps maintain stiffness in plant leaves. Olive oil with its preponderance of oleic acid is the product of a temperate climate. It is liquid at warm temperatures. Harder Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, and Soy Oils all contain over 50% omega-6 and, except for Soy Oil only minimal amounts of Omega 3.

Sunflower oil is valued for its light taste and appearance, and supplies more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. It is a combination of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels. Cooks recognize the
versatility of this healthy oil internationally. There are now two quite distinct types of sunflower oil on the market. High oleic safflower and sunflower oils, produced from hybrid plants, have a composition similar to olive oil, namely, high amounts of oleic acid (mono-unsaturated) and only small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and, thus, are more stable than traditional varieties. High oleic sunflower oil is usually defined as having a minimum 80 percent oleic acid. The patent on high oleic sunflower oil and seed has expired, which means more companies are getting involved in producing and merchandizing this oil.

At Piko we stock a Roasting and Frying Oil that is a mixture of high-oleic mono-unsaturated sunflower and sesame oils.
The Sunflower oil that we stock on tap is high linoleic (Omega 6) Sunflower Oil. This oil when combined with Flax Seed Oil (or any other oil high in Omega 3) will supply all the essential fatty acids necessary. It is best used in dressings or bread baking. The inside of baked bread is actually steamed at an acceptable temperature for even the more sensitive oils and they are protected from air and light as well. Only the crust is actually baked.
This month at Piko our bulk Sunflower Oil is reduced in price to $6.80 per KG.
Bring a bottle and stock up now!

Sunflower Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw or roasted sunflower kernels

Topping: Mix 1 tablespoon sunflower oil with 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 3 tablespoons sunflower kernels, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon until crumbly.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spice, salt and soda; mix well.
Combine pumpkin, egg, milk and oil; add to dry ingredients; mix only until ingredients are combined.
Stir in oats and sunflower kernels.
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.
Sprinkle with topping.
Bake at 425°F 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.

Carrot-Cardamom Muffins

As moist and sumptuous as carrot cake, these muffins won't hang around long.

Sunflower oil
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
½ cup golden raisins
¾ cup orange juice
1 cup finely grated carrots
1 egg
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
½ cup dry roasted, lightly salted sunflower kernels

Lightly coat muffin pan with sunflower oil and preheat oven to 375ºF.
Combine dry ingredients and raisins.
Mix together orange juice, carrots, egg, and oil; gently stir wet ingredients into dry.
Add sunflower kernels gradually, being careful not to overmix.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden.

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