The Difference Between Linoleic Mid-Oleic and High-Oleic Sunflower Oil

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

The Difference Between Linoleic, Mid Oleic and High Oleic Sunflower OilSometimes, it's hard to know exactly what kind of oil going to work best.  If you're in the R&D stages of a new product, you'll be faced with decisions about choosing the right bulk ingredients.  Sometimes, as you begin to narrow down your search, you may be presented with more and more challenging questions.

For example, let's pretend you've been debating between Canola Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sunflower Oil for some time.  You finally make the decision to go with Sunflower Oil.  Unfortunately, you're immediatly presented with a new question: what kind of Sunflower Oil would you like?

Certain oils, especially seed oils, come in a few varieties.  For sunflower oil, there's high oleic, mid oleic and linoleic.  And as you're making your ingredient decisions, it's helpful to know the differences before you begin testing-- not after.

The Basic Differences Between High Oleic, Mid Oleic and Linoleic Sunflower Oil

Defining The Terms: Hi Oleic vs. Mid Oleic

These terms refer to the balance between polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in the oil, which are linoleic acid and oleic acid, respectively. Mid-oleic oils are the result of the industry to move away from hydrogenation, which causes trans fat.

High oleic oils are considered the most healthy, and have the most monosaturated fat that makes up the oil.  Linoleic is comprised of more polyunsaturated fats (considered a less healthy fat) and mid oleic falls somwhere in between.

Linoleic Sunflower Oil

Traditional sunflower oils have fallen into two categories, one high in oleic acid and the other in linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is one of the essential fatty acids in the human diet, and linoleic varieties of sunflower oil contain nearly 70 percent polyunsaturated linoleic acid. Another 20 percent is in monounsaturated oleic acid, and the remaining 10 to 11 percent is saturated fat.

This type of oil is also found in hydrogenated form.

High-Oleic Sunflower Oil

High-oleic sunflower oil is radically different in its makeup. It consists primarily of monounsaturated oleic acids, at around 80 percent of the total. Saturated fats and polyunsaturated linoleic acid make up the balance, in equal proportions.

Bulk high-oleic sunflower oil is important in the manufacture of food products, because it remains stable without hydrogenation and will not go rancid in long storage. This makes switching from bulk linoleic to bulk high-oleic sunflower oil an easy way for manufacturers to reduce trans fats.

Mid-Oleic Sunflower Oil

Mid-oleic sunflower oil takes a middle position between the two traditional oils, with oleic acid accounting for roughly two-thirds of the fat content, polyunsaturated linoleic acid at roughly 25 percent, and about 9 percent saturated fat.  Mid-oleic oil retains high enough levels of linoleic acid to remain an excellent dietary source, but the relatively high levels of oleic acid make it less prone to rancidity and breaking down, eliminating any need for hydrogenation and the resulting trans fat.  

Some manufacturers making a thicker product prefer this oil over traditional high-oleic sunflower oil for it's emulsifying properties.

Learn More About Sunflower Oil

Want to learn more about sunflower oil?  Choose one of the topics below to learn more:

How The Tight Supply Of Bulk Sunflower Oil & Safflower Oil Affects You

How The Price of Bulk Olive Oil Compares To Sunflower/Safflower Oil

Topics: Comparing Oils, Sunflower/Safflower Oil

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