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New Healthful Sunflower Oil Resists Breakdown / June 11, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Jerry Miller and Dale Rehder pollinate sunflowers

New Healthful Sunflower Oil Resists Breakdown

By Ben Hardin
June 11, 1998

NuSun, a healthful vegetable oil from new sunflower hybrids, is designed to make foods taste better and stay fresh longer.

The new oil is low in saturated fat. It has several times as much oleic acid and less than half as much linoleic acid as traditional sunflower oil. Some studies indicate that a moderately low-fat diet with a high oleic acid content lowers serum cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease.

Linoleic acid content, though lower in NuSun oil, is still high enough for desired flavor in fried foods. In sensory panel evaluations, tortilla chips fried in the low-linoleic NuSun oil stayed fresh-tasting longer than chips fried in commercial sunflower oil. NuSun holds up well in frying vats even without hydrogenation, a process normally required to protect oils from flavor deterioration.

In field trials by ARS scientists, NuSun yields were equal to traditional sunflower varieties. This year, growers planted 100,000 acres of NuSun hybrids. The new sunflowers could spur a doubling of U.S. oilseed sunflower acreage from its present 2.2 million acres by 2001.

Plant geneticist Jerry Miller and colleagues at the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D., found that a single dominant gene enables NuSun hybrids to produce oil with a 60 to 75 percent oleic acid content.

More details about NuSun hybrids appear in the June issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The article is also on the World Wide Web at:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jun98/sunf0698.htm

Scientific contacts: Jerry F. Miller, Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, ND, 58105; phone (701) 239-1321, fax number (701) 239-1346, millerjf@fargo.ars.usda.gov.

Kathleen Warner, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, 1815 N. University Street, Peoria, IL 61604; phone (309) 681-6555, fax number (309) 681-6679, warnerk@mail.ncaur.usda.gov.

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