The most important seed oils

Seed oils are a type of (refined) vegetable oil in which the oil comes from the seed of a plant, rather than the fruit. The most common seed oils include sunflower oil, rapeseed/canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, lineseed oil, and castor oil.

‍Seed oils generally have a high content of unsaturated fatty acids. They are therefore liquid at room temperature. They are nowadays widely used in foods. Seed oils are neutral in taste and have a high smoke point. 

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is pressed from the seeds of the sunflower (Latin name: Helianthus Annuus). The sunflower is originally from Mexico. Sunflowers are now mainly grown in areas with warm summers, such as Southern Europe, Argentina, Ukraine and Russia. The sunflower also grows in the Netherlands. But due to our cold climate, the seeds of our sunflowers contain little oil. Sunflower oil contains no less than 90% unsaturated fats. Sunflower oil is used as a cooking oil, but also as a frying oil and in margarine. Potato chips are often prepared in sunflower oil.

Rapeseed oil

Rapeseed oil (canola oil) is pressed from the seed of the rapeseed plant. Canola (Latin name: Brassica Napus) and rapeseed (Latin name: Brassica Rapa) are very similar. Therefore, the names are often used interchangeably. Canola plants and rapeseed plants are grown in Great Britain, Germany, France, Poland, Canada, Ukraine and India. Rapeseed oil contains as much as 95% unsaturated fats. Rapeseed oil is often used in margarine and biscuits.

Soybean oil

Soybean oil is pressed from the beans of the soybean plant (Latin name: Glycine Max). The soybean plant originates from Asia. Soy plants are grown in North and South America. The soybean is high in protein and fat. It can be used as a whole bean in animal feed, but it is customary to crush it. This process separates the oil from the rest of the bean. The soybean consists of roughly 20 percent oil and 80 percent soybean meal. 1,000 kilograms of soybeans yields 790 kilograms of soybean meal, 190 to 200 liters of soybean oil, and 20 kilograms of soybean hulls. Soybean oil contains 85% unsaturated fats. Also soybean oil is used in margarine and biscuits.

Corn oil

Corn oil is pressed from the germ of the corn plant (Latin name: Zea Mays). The corn plant is native to southern Mexico.  Corn plants are grown in North and South America. Maize also grows in the Netherlands, but it is mainly used as animal feed. Corn oil contains 85% unsaturated fats. Corn oil is also used as cooking oil and frying oil.

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is pressed from the peanuts of the peanut plant (Latin name: Arachis Hypogaea). Originally, peanuts only grew in South America. During excavations it has been discovered that the Incas were already squeezing oil out of peanuts. Peanut plants are grown in tropical regions such as South America, Asia and West Africa. Peanut oil contains 80% unsaturated fats.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is obtained by pressing flaxseed (Latin name: Linum usitatissimum). Some types of flax are grown for the fiber (so-called fiber flax), other types for the oil (so-called oil flax). The oil flax plant is grown in temperate regions, particularly in North and South America, Europe, India and Russia. This plant is also grown in the Netherlands, albeit on a modest scale. Linseed oil contains an average of about 90% unsaturated fatty acids, more than half of which is linolenic acid, and is widely used in paint, varnish, linoleum and animal feed because of its good drying properties.

Castor oil

Castor oil is obtained from castor seeds (Latin name: Ricinus communis). Although the castor plant tolerates many different climatic conditions, it is native to India, which today also forms the top 3 main producers of castor seed together with Brazil and Russia. Raw castor oil contains toxic and allergic components that are removed by refining. Castor oil has a relatively high viscosity, is soluble in alcohol and contains no less than 98% unsaturated fatty acids, the majority of which are ricinoleic acid. The oil is used in paints and varnishes, cosmetics, skin care products, cleaning agents and special adhesives.

Olive oil

Olive oil is not a seed oil, but a fruit oil. It is pressed from olives from the olive tree (Latin name: Olea Europaea). Humanity has been familiar with olive oil for a long time, the oldest data show that this oil was used as early as 4000 years BC.  Olive trees grow throughout the Mediterranean region, Australia and China. Olive oil contains 85% unsaturated fats.

Other seed oils

Other less used seed oils include: almond oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, wheat germ oil,  borage oil, walnut oil, rice bran oil, hazelnut oil, poppy seed oil, and safflower oil.

Previous page
Next page