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A graphic with text "THIS OR THAT?" at the top and "VS" in the middle. On the left is a bottle of sunflower oil with sunflower decorations, and on the right is a bottle of canola oil with rapeseed plant decorations, both against a light green background. Which is healthier?

Sunflower Oil vs Canola Oil – Which is Healthier?

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Our Verdict

When comparing sunflower oil to canola oil, we picked the sunflower oil.


They’re both terrible! But canola oil is worse. Sunflower oil is marketed as being higher in polyunsaturated fats, which it is, albeit not by much.

Canola oil is very bad for the heart, and sunflower oil is only moderately bad for the heart, to the point that it can be heart-neutral if used sparingly.

As seed oils, they are both sources of vitamin E, but you’d need to drink a cup of oil to get your daily dose, so please just eat some seeds (or nuts, or fruit, or something) instead. It can even be sunflower seeds if you like! Rapeseed* itself (the seed that canola oil is made from) isn’t really sold as a foodstuff, so that one’s less of an option.

*Fun fact: if you’re N. American and wondering what this “rapeseed” is, know that most of the rest of the Anglosphere calls canola oil “rapeseed oil”, as it’s made from rapeseed, which comes from a plant called rape, whose name is unrelated to the crime of the same name, and comes from rāpa, the Latin word for turnip. Anyway, “canola” is a portmanteau of “Canadian” and “Ola” meaning oil, and is a trademark that has made its way into generic use throughout N. America, as a less alarming name.

Back to health matters: while sunflower seeds are healthy in moderation, the ultraprocessed and refined sunflower and canola oils are not.

Canola oil has also been found to be implicated in age-related cognitive decline, whereas sunflower oil has had mixed results in that regard.

In summary

Sunflower oil is relatively, and we stress relatively, healthier than canola oil. Please use a healthier oil than either if you can. Olive oil is good for most things, and if you need something with a higher smoke point (and/or less distinctive flavor), consider avocado oil, which is also very healthy and whose smoke point is even higher than the seed oils we’ve been discussing today.

Want to know more?

Check out:

Avocado Oil vs Olive Oil – Which is Healthier?


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