Olive oil or sunflower oil?


Olive oil has a super healthy image. But it’s no better than sunflower oil, scientists say. In some respects, the cheaper sunflower oil is even healthier.

Mediterranean food is very healthy for your heart and blood vessels, according to all kinds of studies. That means a lot of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and a lot of sunny olive oil! Olive oil contains many unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for your health. If you replace saturated fats such as butter with unsaturated fats, you also demonstrably reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Olive Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

But sunflower oil also contains predominantly unsaturated fatty acids. Indeed, sunflower oil contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids than olive oil, predominantly mono- unsaturated fatty acids in it. And the first appear to be slightly more favorable for cholesterol levels and heart and vessels than the second, according to the Health Council.

Essential: linoleic acid

In fact, some of these polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, are essential for us to get through our diet. Our body cannot produce linoleic acid itself, so the only way to get it is through our diet. And sunflower oil contains eight times as much linoleic acid as olive oil.

Incidentally, you do not have to worry that you will develop a linoleic acid deficiency if you do not use sunflower oil. Linoleic acid is common and is also found in corn oil and soybean oil, margarine, low-fat margarine and cooking and frying fats.

Fifteen times as much vitamin E.

But there is more good news under the sun. Because although olive oil also contains vitamin E, this is a joke compared to sunflower oil. If we look at the Dutch Nutrient Database (NEVO), we read that sunflower oil contains no less than fifteen times as much vitamin E! This means that with one tablespoon of sunflower oil you almost have your daily vitamin E requirement. Adult women need 8 milligrams of vitamin E per day and one tablespoon of sunflower oil already contains 7.6 milligrams, according to the Nutrition Center.


Sunflower oil even contains a little selenium, unlike olive oil, which contains only a ‘trace’ of it. Selenium has the same effect as an antioxidant and prevents the formation of harmful substances in the body. It is also important for good resistance and healthy hair.

Olive oil: more vitamins K and A.

But what does olive oil have that sunflower oil doesn’t? To begin with, it contains almost ten times as much vitamin K, as we read in the NEVO tables. This vitamin is important for blood clotting, but also for your bone metabolism. Olive oil also contains vitamin A, unlike sunflower oil, which contains no vitamin A at all. This vitamin is good for your resistance and is therefore also called the anti-infection vitamin.

Scary stories about linoleic acid

There is also something to be said about the linoleic acid in sunflower oil. For example, there are experts who claim that too much linoleic acid breaks down the omega-3 fatty acid linolenic acid. Omega-3 fats are praised for their anti-inflammatory effect. However, according to Professor of Nutrition Martijn Katan of the VU Amsterdam, the breakdown theory is rattling on all sides. The Nutrition Center also remains pleasantly sober about it. “Based on the scientific literature, there is no evidence that olive oil is healthier than sunflower oil,” said a spokesman.

Matter of taste

In short, just vary. Then you get the best of both vegetable oils. For cold and warm preparations you can use olive oil or sunflower oil, it is just what you like best. Only ‘extra virgin’ olive oil is not suitable for deep-frying, because then harmful substances can be released. For this it is better to use normal olive oil, ‘virgin’ olive oil or – indeed – just the cheaper sunflower oil.

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