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Sunflower Oil Allergy: Are You at Risk?

sunflower oil allergy

Sunflower oil is often used for cooking, especially for deep-frying. Sunflower oil allergy is not widespead but there are cases of allergy to sunflower oil. What are the main symptoms of sunflower oil allergy and how to avoid them? Let’s find out.

Sunflower oil allergy signs

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network states that while only eight foods account for 90 percent of food allergies – egg, milk, tree nuts, peanut, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat – people can become allergic to almost any food. There are also the cases of sunflower oil allergy described in the literature with the following symptoms:

  • swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue and ears;
  • skin rashes and hives; itching on neck and arms (after applying the oil topically);
  • severe stomach cramping and abdominal pain;
  • nausea and vomiting.


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Reasons for sunflower oil allergy

Allergic to sunflower oil signs depend on individual sensitiveness and body response.

Several studies prove that allergic reactions to sunflower oil, though being reported, are very rare cases. According to the article «Allerg Immunol» [Allergenicity of oils] by Laboratoire de Biochimie Médicale et Pédiatrique, Faculté de Médecine de Nancy (Paris), sunflower oil allergy usually occurs in individuals who have reaction to sunflower seeds. However, there are also contradictory examples in the bibliography, when people with the allergy to sunflower seeds can safely consume sunflower oil. A few studies proved that the potential risk of allergy to sunflower oil depends much on the procedures to which the oil is submitted while extraction and packaging.

According to G. Kannyl (article “Food allergy to sunflower oil in a patient sensitized to mugwort pollen” Allergy), R.W.R. Crevela, M.A.T. Kerkhoffb, M.M.G. Koningb (article “Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils”, Food and Chemical Toxicology), the occurrence of sunflower oil allergy depends on the following:

  • the degree of oil refinement;
  • the conditions of oil processing (i.e. the using of chemicals);
  • the protein content of the oil;
  • the level of a patient sensitivity.


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Allergenicity and the oil type

Usually, it is sunflower oil protein, which can cause allergy. The more the oil is refined the more protein is removed. Therefore, unrefined sunflower oil can provoke allergy in some sensitive to sunflower seeds individuals. There is not much information about the concrete influence of different processing steps on allergenicity, although this information is crucial to assess potential risk. The conclusion of the mentioned reviews is that edible vegetable oils, including sunflower oil, present no risk of allergy in the overwhelming majority of susceptible people. Thus, a final decision whether to avoid sunflower oil in an individual sensitive to sunflower seeds, is a subject of clinical conclusion. In any case you may always find sunflower oil substitutes.