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Petraru, A. Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 19 June 2024).
Petraru A. Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 19, 2024.
Petraru, Ancuta. "Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 19, 2024).
Petraru, A. (2021, December 07). Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake. In Encyclopedia.
Petraru, Ancuta. "Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake." Encyclopedia. Web. 07 December, 2021.
Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake

Ample amounts of by-products are generated from the oil industry. Among them, sunflower oilcakes have the potential to be used for human consumption, thus achieving the concept of sustainability and circular economy. Sunflower oil contains principally oleic (19.81%) and linoleic (64.35%) acids, which cannot be synthetized by humans and need to be assimilated through a diet. Sunflower seeds are very nutritive (33.85% proteins and 65.42% lipids and 18 mineral elements). Due to the rich content of lipids, they are principally used as a source of vegetable oil. Compared to seeds, sunflower oilcakes are richer in fibers (31.88% and 12.64% for samples in form of pellets and cake, respectively) and proteins (20.15% and 21.60%), with a balanced amino acids profile. The remaining oil (15.77% and 14.16%) is abundant in unsaturated fatty acids (95.59% and 92.12%). The comparison between the three products showed the presence of valuable components that makes them suitable for healthy diets with an adequate intake of nutrients and other bioactive compounds with benefic effects.

sustainability sunflower seeds sunflower oil sunflower oilcakes nutritive parameters classification amino acids profile fatty acids composition

1. Introduction

Large amounts of biodegradable waste and residues are produced and discarded every year from the food industry. These residues have high biochemical and chemical oxygen demand. For this reason, untreated waste harms the microflora [1]. Food waste with a high fat content is susceptive to oxidation and thus harmful for microflora due to continuous enzymatic activity, which accelerates spoilage and limits technological possibilities of disposal. Environmental protection must be the first priority of international politics [2]. Nowadays, due to the rapid expansion of the human population and current environmental issues (over-exploitation of resources, degradation of environment), it is necessary for a transition to the circular economy and the development of new strategies to minimize food waste during the supply chain [3][4]. Moreover, problems related to cost disposal and the use of by-products have become an increasing challenge [5]. Conventional methods for waste disposal and valorization are incineration, aerobic fermentation, composting, fertilizer and feedstuff [6]. Alternative solutions consist in extracting the maximum value from waste, hence the bioactive compound and re-circulating them in the process, making value-added products and thus creating the concept of “waste = food” [7][8].
Oilseeds are mostly used as a source of vegetable oils. After the extraction process, large amounts of residues and by-products are available. The use of these permits the achievement of effective waste utilization and the successful realization of the circular economy concept [9]. Possible valorization methods of the oilcakes involve their use in animal diets as feeds, compost, a substrate in the production of enzymes, antibiotics and biosurfactants and in the recovery of bioactive compounds for further use in the production of new value-added products [6][10].
Sunflower is a plant from the Asteraceae family, Helianthus genus and more than seventy species are known worldwide. The origin of the name derived from the aspect of the plant which resembled a sun and the fact that it rotates after the sun’s rays [11][12]. Globally, sunflower seeds are ranked as one of the most produced oilseeds crops alongside rapeseed, soybean and cottonseed [13]. Their composition and nutritive values depend on numerous factors, namely genotype, soil type, agricultural practices, climatic and processing conditions [14]. Two types of sunflower seeds are known, namely the oil-producing seed and the ones used for confectionary purposes. The first is black with a thin hull (lignin and cellulolytic materials) that adheres to the kernel and represents 20% of the total weight. Originally, the seeds contained 25% oil but by modern plant breeding methods [15][16] (induced mutation, hybridization, molecular breeding) new sunflower hybrids, in which the oil content was increased to 40% [11][17][18], were created. The seeds are a source of dietary fibers, unsaturated fatty acids (more linoleic than oleic), antioxidants, flavonoids (quercetin, luteolin, apigenin and kaempferol) amino acids, proteins (up to 20%), vitamins (E, B, folate and niacin) and minerals (principally calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc) [19][20]. The amino acids profile includes glutamic, aspartic acids, arginine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, leucine, methionine and cysteine. The content in fatty acids varies up to 31%, being higher than the other oilseed such as safflower, peanut, soybean, sesame and flaxseed [21].
The oilseeds are mostly used as a source of vegetable oil with unique physicochemical properties [22]. The traditional extraction techniques involve the use of a mechanic press (hot or cold pressing) or solvents [23][24]. Sunflower oil, due to its easy accessibility and numerous health benefits (maintenance of low cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels in the human body, antioxidant, anticancer, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, skin protective and analgesic), is widely preferred in Europe, Mexico and several countries of South America. After extraction, it remains liquid at room temperature and has a shelf-life of over one year at 10 °C and in darkness [11][25]. The major components are linoleic (59–65%) and oleic acids (30–70%). These represent 48–78% of the total fatty acids profile. There is also a small percentage of palmitic and stearic acids (15% for both fatty acids) present [26][27]. Sunflower oil is also rich in vitamins (important role in the good functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system), minerals (role in the enzymatic and metabolic processes) and excellent phytochemical such as carotenoids, tocopherols, phenols and tocotrienols with antioxidant activity. The variation of the composition depends on the plant’s species and the extraction methods employed [28][29].
Oilcakes are the principal by-products obtained after the extraction of oil from the seeds. Then they are air-dried to remove the water before storage. Sometimes they are molded into two forms, namely flour (ground material) and pellet. The term is synonymous with press-cake, meal and oil meal. In terms of appearance, sunflower meal has the taste and the smell characteristic of the initial raw material without musty, mold, rancid and foreign smells. The color changes from black to gray [30].
Generally, the meal is used in animal diet as feeds because it is an excellent source of protein and thus produces an increase in biomass [31][32][33]. It can be also used for human consumption. The essential amino acids present in sunflower press-cakes are cysteine, methionine, leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, alanine and phenylalanine [25]. Regarding the minerals and vitamins, phosphorus, thiamine, nicotinic, pantothenic acids and riboflavin are predominant [26]. The dehulled process reduces the fiber content and increases the protein content [34]. The difference in chemical composition varies depending on variety, growing condition, dehulling and extraction method [35].
The physical characteristics are extremely important in the seeds production chain for designing various agricultural machines and equipment for operations such as planting, harvesting, cleaning, quality assessment, classification, dehulling, milling, packaging, storing and oil extraction [36]. Physical characteristics can be grouped into four categories, namely dimensional, gravimetric, compressive and frictional (angle of response and static friction) [37][38]. Length, width, thickness, area, volume, sphericity, equivalent diameter and projected area are dimensional proprieties and offer information about the shape. Instead, mass, bulk density, true density and porosity are gravimetric properties [39]. The size, shape and density influence aerodynamic proprieties, which are crucial in designing a harvester [40]. Moreover, hulling efficiency is affected by the hull structure, seed size and density. Sphericity, static friction and angle of response play a key role in designing storage facilities, while porosity in designing extraction machinery [41]. When evaluating quality, consumers choose their preference based on texture, flavor and appearance. In order to reduce damaged and defective seeds, a classifier that complies with the quality indicators found should be realized [42][43].

2. Chemical Composition of the Seeds, Kernels and Hulls

Sunflower seeds consist of kernels and seed coats or hulls. Sunflower hulls represent 21–30% of the seed weight and generally are considered a waste by-product [44]. From the hulls can be recovered valuable phenolic compound and cellulose fibers for the production of green, renewable, biodegradable and edible food packaging material, thus reducing the global plastic production [45]. Another alternative to dispose of them is by transforming the biomass (by pyrolysis, gasification and fermentation) obtaining bio-oils rich in furfural content (a valuable bio-renewable chemical that can be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals) [46] In our study, the proportion of hulls calculated for the sunflower seeds fell into the range from 13.67% up to 43.47%. Values depend on variety, environmental conditions, seed size and oil content [47]. The lower values can be the result of the continuous effort to increase the seed’s oil content [40]. The hulls contain a low percentage of proteins (7.82%), lipids (8.81%) and ash (2.45%) according to Table 1. Similar values were found by other authors [40][46][48], values ranged within 3.48–12.40% for moisture, 2.3–9.45% for oil, 5.36–7.36% for protein and 2.1–4.11% for ash.
Table 1. Chemical composition of the whole seeds, kernels and hulls.
Sample Moisture, % Ash, % Proteins, % Lipids, %
Seed 6.16 ± 0.04 b 2.73 ± 0.04 b 33.85 ± 0.88 b 65.42 ± 0.4 a
Kernel 4.60 ± 0.03 c 3.31 ± 0.11 a 23.73 ± 1.31 a 32.50 ± 2.21 b
Hull 7.88 ± 0.09 a 2.45 ± 0.11 c 7.82 ± 0.22 c 8.81 ± 0.12 c
Different superscripts letters after the values indicated differences statistically significant at p < 0.05%.
Nutritional characteristics of mature and sun-dried sunflower seeds, hulls and kernels are summarized in Table 1. The findings showed that seeds contain on average 33.85% proteins, 65.42% lipids and 2.73% ash, most of which are found in the kernels.
In comparison with other species, the seeds are rich in crude fat, due probably to the breeding techniques (induced mutation, hybridization, molecular breeding) used to increase the oil content. Various studies about the chemical composition of high-oleic sunflower seeds showed that the fat content varies in the range of 37.47−54.06% [49][50][51].
The ash content found in various high-oleic seeds ranged between 2.68–4.87%. The findings were lower than those reported, differences being attributed to genetic factors and geographical conditions [52][53].
Compared to the other nutrients moisture content is the most important factor for the prevention of insect infestation and diseases. Moreover, moisture content affects the physical properties of sunflower seeds. With the increase, the spatial and gravimetric also increased [39][54][55]. Moisture values found in the literature ranged between 2.5−6.32% and 3–3.2% in whole and dehulled seeds, respectively [35][56]. The higher values were found in hulls because they have a higher water absorption. Further, low moisture in kernels can be explained by the content in oil because the two liquids are immiscible [40].
When the dehulling process is applied in kernels the protein content increases up to 23.73% and ash content up to 3.31%. The findings are in accordance with those reported by other authors [35][57]. While opposite results were observed for lipid and moisture parameters. The findings indicate that the dehulling process can contribute to improving quality and reducing undesirable characteristics. However, hulls facilitate the oil extraction process. In this case, an amount of the latter should be left, but in small proportion so as not to compromise the oil quality [35].
The result obtained for kernels were similar to those obtained by other authors [58][59][60].

3. Classification of the Sunflower Seeds

Lipids are predominant in the kernel’s cellular structure and for this reason, their mass can be considered a potential quality parameter [40]. To investigate the latter, the coefficient of correlation between the size (L, l, W, w, T, t-length, width and thickness of the whole seeds and kernels respectively), shape (ψ, ψk-sphericity of the whole seeds and kernels respectively; De, Dek- equivalent diameter of the seeds and kernels) and gravimetric parameters (M, m- mass for the seeds and kernels) was calculated for a sample of 145 unsorted seeds. The results are given in Table 2. All the correlations were significant at p < 0.05. The L/W, L/T, W/T ratios indicate that length is more related to width and thickness, however, width is strongly related to thickness. Kernel’s length, width and thickness ratio showed a low correlation with each other. The correlation coefficient for L/l, W/w and T/t ratios indicates the fact that bigger seeds when dehulled give bigger kernels. To investigate the potential correlation with the mass, there were calculated all the ratio combinations with the spatial parameters of the seeds and kernels. Mass is more related to thickness and width in the seeds and with length in the kernels. A moderate relationship between the spatial characteristics of the seeds and kernel with the mass of the kernels was found. Moreover, strong relationships were found between the seeds and the kernel’s mass (r = 0.97) and between the equivalent diameter and the kernels’ and seeds’ mass (r = 0.84). However, the equivalent diameter is hard to obtain because it depends on the length, thickness and width. Overall, it can be concluded that there is a high linear relationship between the hulls and seeds’ mass.
Table 2. Correlation between the dimensional and gravimetric properties of sunflower seeds and kernels, n = 145.
Parameters Ratio Value Correlation Coefficient
L/W 2.04 0.693 *
L/T 3.34 0.567 *
W/T 1.64 0.828 *
l/w 2.17 0.431 *
l/t 3.65 0.828 *
w/t 1.68 0.404 *
L/M 182.65 0.625 *
W/M 89.69 0.805 *
T/M 54.67 0.793 *
De/M 96.24 0.841 *
ψ/M 8.67 0.615 *
l/m 183.77 0.599 *
t/m 50.43 0.511 *
w/m 84.81 0.626 *
Dek/m 9.21 0.723 *
Ψk/m 1.07 0.259 *
L/m 23.91 0.617 *
W/m 11.74 0.809 *
T/m 7.16 0.791 *
De/m 12.60 0.840 *
ψ/m 1.14 0.623 *
M/m 1.31 0.965 *
L/w 2.82 0.538 *
L/l 1.30 0.453 *
W/w 1.39 0.679 *
T/t 1.42 0.603 *
The symbol * indicates significance at p < 0.01; L—length of the whole seeds; W—width of the whole seeds; T—thickness of the whole seeds; M—mass of the whole seeds; l, w, t, m—length, width, thickness and mass of the kernels; De—equivalent diameter of the sunflower seeds; Dek-—equivalent diameter of sunflower kernels; ψ, ψk—sphericity of the sunflower seeds and kernels, respectively.
Considering the values obtained, the mass can be used as a parameter for the classification of sunflower seeds in three classes. The mass boundaries for each class were taken from Munder, 2017 [40]: for class I, m ≤ 0.045 g, for class II between 0.045–0.070 g and m > 0.070 g for class three. A proportion of 13.08% of the total sunflower seeds sample enters in the first class, a percent of 55.23% in the second and one of 21.68% in the third. Based on the lack of significance found for M/m Gupta and Das [55] choose to classify sunflower seeds based on their length. On the other hand, Santalla et al. [61] despite finding M/m the highest significant combination, choose a classification based on the length and did not justify their decision.

4. Size, Shape and Gravimetric Properties of Sunflower Seeds and Kernels

The dimensional, geometric and gravimetric properties of the four seed and kernel categories are presented in Table 3. ANOVA analysis indicates that with the increase in mass, all the shapes and spatial dimensions of the sunflower seeds and kernels have expanded significantly (p < 0.05%) giving longer, wider, thicker, rounder and heavier seeds and kernels. The significant increase in bulk density and decrease in porosity with classes is correlated with the sphericity because rounder objects tend to occupy more equally the space within a given volume. As the thickness was lower than the width in both kernels and seeds, they can be described as having compressed oval bodies [40]. Further, the dimensional properties are important for determining the seed processing machines’ aperture [62].
Table 3. Dimensional and gravimetric parameters for the unsorted seeds and kernels and their three categories, n = 500.
Type Parameters Unsorted Classification Based on Mass
Class I Class II Class III
Shape and spatial dimension
Seed L, mm 11.16 ± 0.03 b 10.27 ± 0.74 d 10.83 ± 0.71 c 12.20 ± 0.53 a
W, mm 5.48 ± 0.02 b 4.13 ± 0.10 d 5.25 ± 0.29 c 6.53 ± 0.29 a
T, mm 3.34 ± 0.01 b 2.42 ± 0.26 d 3.21 ± 0.24 c 4.01 ± 0.25 a
De, mm 5.88 ± 0.07 b 4.67 ± 0.18 d 5.66 ± 0.19 c 6.83 ± 0.19 a
Ψ, - 0.53 ± 0.01 b 0.46 ± 0.03 c 0.52 ± 0.03 b 0.56 ± 0.02 a
V, mm3 113.88 ± 5.12 b 46.83 ± 3.53 d 95.60 ± 5.26 c 178.80 ± 6.94 a
S, mm2 110.15 ± 2.54 b 68.59 ± 5.16 d 100.84 ± 6.11 c 146.47 ± 8.27 a
Ap, mm2 48.48 ± 0.89 b 33.33 ± 2.56 d 44.65 ± 3.71 c 62.56 ± 4.49 a
Kernel L, mm 8.58 ± 0.63 b 7.52 ± 0.48 c 8.55 ± 0.51 b 9.15 ± 0.41 a
W, mm 3.96 ± 0.25 b 3.47 ± 0.21 c 3.8 ± 0.28 b 4.44 ± 0.28 a
T, mm 2.35 ± 0.16 b 2.05 ± 0.18 c 2.22 ± 0.17 b 2.69 ± 0.19 a
Dek, mm 4.30 ± 0.13 b 3.8 ± 0.15 d 4.15 ± 0.11 c 4.78 ± 0.12 a
Ψk, - 0.50 ± 0.03 b 0.50 ± 0.03 b 0.49 ± 0.03 b 0.52 ± 0.02 a
Vk, mm3 41.05 ± 3.56 b 26.99 ± 1.15 d 34.99 ± 3.31 c 57.02 ± 4.94 a
Sk, mm2 58.39 ± 3.61 b 44.37 ± 3.8 d 54.20 ± 2.86 c 71.66 ± 3.57 a
Apk, mm2 26.76 ± 2.35 b 20.49 ± 1.51 c 25.50 ± 2.18 b 31.88 ± 2.60 a
Gravimetric properties
Seed M, g 0.0611 ± 0.002 b 0.0395 ± 0.001 c 0.0569 ± 0.003 b 0.07856 ± 0.007 a
pb, Kg/m3 404.54 ± 2.76 b 395.23 ± 2.53 c 415.08 ± 2.49 b 425.47 ± 3.13 a
pt, Kg/m3 704.81 ± 1.15 a 708.07 ± 4.63 a 691.22 ± 1.3 b 650.33 ± 2.25 c
φ, Kg/m3 42.60 ± 0.77 b 44.18 ± 0.95 a 39.95 ± 0.93 c 34.58± 0.18 d
Kernel m, g 0.0467 ± 0.003 b 0.0292 ± 0.002 c 0.0403 ± 0.003 b 0.0591 ± 0.004 a
pb, Kg/m3 525.29 ± 4.03 b 414.81 ± 5.29 d 484.00 ± 3.05 c 598.08 ± 4.43 a
pt, Kg/m3 1072.13 ± 0.75 b 1079.69 ± 0.45 a 1074.41 ± 1.21 c 1068.60 ± 0.73 d
φ, Kg/m3 51.02 ± 0.03 c 61.58 ± 0.02 a 54.95 ± 0.05 b 44.03 ± 0.04 d
L, W, T, M, De, ψ, V, S, Ap—length, width, thickness, mass, equivalent diameter, sphericity, volume, surface area and projected area of sunflower seeds; l, w, t, m, Dek, ψk, Vk, Sk, Apk—length, width, thickness, mass, equivalent diameter, sphericity, volume, surface area and projected area of sunflower kernels; pb—bulk density; pt—true density; φ—porosity. Different superscript letters indicated difference at p < 0.05%.
The bulk density (pb) through the three classes of seeds varied from 395.23 Kg/m3 to 425.47 Kg/m3, while kernel’s density (pbk) varied from 414.81 Kg/m3 to 598.08 Kg/m3 . Kernel’s values were higher than those of seeds, due probably to the hulls which are bulkier and provoked lower values for the mass per unit volume occupied by the seeds [55]. This characteristic depends on the distribution of seeds after shaking and the shape of the single particles, The more compacted and shaken the seeds are, the higher the values that are found for bulk density [63].
True density values for kernels (ptk), namely 1068.60 Kg/m3 to 1079.69 Kg/m3, were higher than those found for seeds (pt), namely 708.07 Kg/m3 to 650.33 Kg/m3. The finding indicated that seeds will float in water while kernels will sink [39]. Furthermore, according to this information, the separation of the hulls can be carried out by blowing air instead of floating in water [64]. The decrease in overall true density with classes may be due to the decrease in water absorption caused by the oil molecules and the increase in proteins [65].
Porosity decreased through classes from 61.58% to 44.03% and from 43.18% to 34.58% for kernels and seeds respectively. The porosity is important during the drying process because indicates the resistance of the seeds to airflow [62]. Kernels’ sphericity (0.50) was lower than those of the seeds (0.53), making the seeds closer to the shape of a sphere than the kernels. However, the ψ found was relatively low indicating the difficulty of the seeds to rotate easily during handling [66]. Moreover, sphericity near the value of 1 shows a higher tendency to rotate about any of the three major axes. This information is important in designing seed hoppers [62].
Values found by others authors for the seed’s bulk density, true density and porosity ranged between 267.03–710 Kg/m3, 444.39–902 Kg/m3 and 31.3–54.93% respectively. While those for kernels ranged between 535–582.50 Kg/m3, 1015–1250 Kg/m3 and 45.4−51.19% [37][39][40][41][54][55][61][67][68].
All seeds categories are longer, wider and thinner compared with the Modern sunflower variety [55]. In comparison with the sunflower hybrid F1 from cultivar PR65H22, the seeds presented similar lengths, but they were thicker and wider [40]. Moreover, the findings showed smaller, wider and thicker seeds than Trisum 568 sunflower genotype [61]. Compared with the two sunflower hybrids (ACA 884 and Paraiso 20) selected by de Figueiredo [41], the unsorted seeds were longer, wider and thicker. The opposite was observed when unsorted seeds were compared with the PSH-996, Shamshiri and the P64H41 varieties [37][39][54]. From the six varieties studied by Cetin,2020, [49] Transol and Colombi showed higher dimensional values, while Tunca presented a similar dimension, except for the length, which was longer.
For the unsorted category, the equivalent diameter, sphericity, volume and surface area values were higher than those reported for the PSH-996 variety. However, they were lower than those reported for Shamshiri, P64H41, LG5582, Transol, 63MM54, P64LC53, Colombi varieties. The three categories of sunflower seeds presented slightly higher sphericity, diameter and volume values than those reported for the PR65H22 variety.

5. Sunflower Oilcakes Characterization

The physical, chemical and functional properties of the two types of cold-pressed sunflower oilcakes are reported in Table 4. The analyzed sunflower oilcakes have different shapes, namely pellets (SFOC/PE) and cake (SFOC/C). The nutritive composition of the sunflower oilcakes can differ considerably depending on the quality of seeds, extraction technique and storage parameters. All the findings fell in the range reported by other authors [69][70][71]. No significant difference (p < 0.05) in the moisture and protein content was found between the two samples. SFOC/C presented significantly higher ash and crude fiber values, but lower fat content than SFOC/PE.
Table 4. Chemical, functional and color proprieties of the two sunflower oilcakes.
Parameters SFOC/PE SFOC/C
Moisture (%) 8.75 ± 0.10 a 8.93 ± 0.11 a
Dry matter (%) 91.25 ± 0.10 a 91.07 ± 0.11 a
Proteins (%) 20.15 ± 1.57 a 21.60 ± 1.87 a
Fat (%) 15.77 ± 0.45 a 14.16 ± 0.04 b
Ash (%) 4.56 ± 0.11 b 6.15 ± 0.04 a
Crude fiber (%) 31.88 ± 0.79 a 12.64 ± 0.05 b
Carbohydrates (%) 18.89 ± 0.23 a 36.52 ± 1.11 b
Bulk density (g/mL) 0.4196 ± 0.002 a 0.4204 ± 0.001 a
WHC (g/g) 2.58 ± 0.11 a 2.33 ± 0.07 b
OHC (g/g) 1.34 ± 0.13 a 1.18 ± 0.08 a
WRC (g/g) 4.67 ± 0.04 a 5.51 ± 0.06 a
SC (%) 3.56 ± 0.06 a 3.19 ± 0.17 a
EC (%) 32.17 ± 1.15 a 30.62 ± 2.14 a
ES (%) 29.87 ± 1.24 a 27.92 ± 0.57 a
L* 42.23 ± 0.01 b 46.29 ± 0.01 a
a* 1.17 ± 0.01 b 1.57 ± 0.01 a
b* 6.11 ± 0.01 b 8.90 ± 0.01 a
SFOC/PE—sunflower oilcakes in pellets form; SFOC/C—sunflower oilcake in the form of cake; WHC—water holding capacity; OHC—oil holding capacity; WRC—water retention capacity; SC—swelling capacity, EC—emulsion capacity; ES—emulsion stability; L*—lightness; a*—redness; b*—yellowness. For difference assessment was performed Student t-test. Values followed by ab are statistically different at 95% confidence level.
The moisture content is an important factor to maintain oilcake stability for long periods of time [72]. A level below 12% is considered safe for storage because it prevents the rapid growth of mold [62]. The values obtained were 8.75% for the meal pellets and 8.93% for the meal cake. The values were relatively similar to those reported for soybean, rapeseed, sesame and flaxseed. Much lower values were found for hemp seed and pumpkin [69][72][73][74].
Oilcakes should be admitted for human consumption when there is an equilibrated proteins and lipids ratio, optimal values for the human body should be 20–25% and 3–5%, respectively [75]. In our case, the fat amounts are too high so direct consumption is impossible. Thus, sunflower oilcakes are destined for the extraction of bioactive compounds.
The total dietary fiber content in the two sunflower press-cakes was high (31.88% for SFOC/PE and 12.64% FOR SFOC/C). The findings met consumers’ demands for fiber-rich food. In addition, fibers have numerous beneficial effects (increase laxation and decrease blood pressure, cholesterol level, reabsorption of bile acids and starch digestion) [76][77][78][79].
Water retention capacity (WRC) offers information about the degradation of the molecular components by measuring the amounts of solid components released from proteins and other molecules. The WRC for the two sunflower press-cakes was 4.67 g/g for the one in pellet shape and 5.51 g/g for the cake, the difference between the two was not significant (p < 0.05) and was probably due to the moisture and protein contents. The same results were found by other authors and ranged from 2.10 g/g to 4.48 g/g [80][81].
The capacity to absorb oil and water is determined by the non-polar and polar amino acids composition, respectively. The oil holding capacity of SFOC/PE was slightly higher than those of SFOC/C, but the difference was not significantly different (confidence level of 95%). A small amount of lipids and moisture increases protein solubility and thus the absorption capacity of the oilcakes [80]. In other studies, values for OHC that ranged from 0.71 g/g to 2.2 g/g [80][81][82][83][84][85] were found.
Water holding capacity (WHC) is measured by the amount of water absorbed by the molecules. The parameter is important for determining the storage conditions. The difference found between the two oilcakes was significant (p < 0.05) [79]. SFOC/C presented higher moisture content that provoked a reduction of the degradation of the molecule and hence the reduction of the parameter. Another possible explanation for the highest values found in SFOC/PE refers to the high content of dietary fibers [85]. WHC values found in our study were similar to those reported by other authors, which ranged from 0.71 g/g to 3.27 g/g [80][81][82][83][84][85].
The bulk density (BD) of the two oilcakes was not significantly different from each other. The index decreased with moisture and increased when lipids content decreased. BD is an important property in the packaging and handling processes in the food industry. It is a measure of flour heaviness and depends on the attractive intermolecular forces, particle size and number of positions in connection [72][86]. Other values found in literature ranged from 0.592 g/mL to 0.741 g/mL [80][87]
Emulsion capacity (EC) is the property of mixing two immiscible liquids (water and oil). Emulsion stability (ES) measures the amount of water released from the emulsion over time. The parameters are closely related to protein surface hydrophobicity that allows a better molecular anchorage of the oil–water interface and thus more stable emulsions [72]. SFOC/C presented a lower value for EC and ES that might be due to its lower amount of hydrophobic amino acid. In the literature, higher values for EC (49.09–53.2%) and ES (48.23–50.45%) [88][89] were found.
In terms of color, the SFOC/C was significantly lighter (L* = 46.29) than SFOC/PE, with higher redness (a* = 1.57) and yellowness (b* = 8.90) values. Compared to the sunflower oil analyzed by Grasso et al. [85] our meals are lighter, less red and more yellow. The color of the products obtained in the previous study was influenced when the content of 18% sunflower oilcake was added, the color becomes browner.
The values of all the nutritional parameters analyzed for the whole seeds and press cakes presented differences with each other (p = 95%). Sunflower seeds had a higher caloric value than the oilcakes due to their higher lipid content. In the meals, the proportion in seeds reached 65.42% and decreased to 14.16–15.77%, once oil extraction by cold pressing was realized. Cold extraction is the most preferable method to obtain high-quality virgin oil. However, an important oil fraction remains in the press-cakes and increases their nutritional values because it provides the whole health benefits to these by-products [90]. The remaining parameters (ash, protein, carbohydrates) increased in the oilcakes as a result of oil removal [90].
Fat content in press-cakes was still high (15.77% in pellets and 14.16% in cake) and needed a further re-extraction. This can be realized with solvents or hot temperature pressing. The first allows to obtain higher oil yields but can compromise oilcake quality, while the second can lead to the liberation of aroma compounds and dark colors [90].
In conclusion, the cold oil pressing by-products are characterized by high nutritional values and good functional parameters. Press-cakes can be used as a food ingredient or for the extraction of bioactive compounds that can be incorporated in new foodstuffs because they are nutritional, social and economically advantageous [91].
Oilcakes rich in proteins and lipids are suitable for feeding omnivores and fish while being rich in fibers for ruminants. Studies showed that sunflower oilcakes improved the carcass yield of fish and pigs [92][93].
A possible valorization of sunflower seeds involves the realization of new food products such as tablets that can be used as supplements [70] Other products obtained with sunflower oilcakes were biscuits (higher protein, phenols and antioxidants compounds) [85], cookies (addition of 10% results in better proteins digestibility and water absorption) and muffins (products with low carbohydrate content) [14].
Furthermore, proteins extracted from sunflower oilcakes can be used for the production of films with good adhesive and barrier properties and low elongation, deformation and elasticity [9].

6. Comparison of the Mineral Composition of the Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Oilcake

Minerals are inorganic nutrients essential for the maintenance of life physicochemical processes [94]. They can be classified into macro-elements (potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium and chloride) and micro-elements (iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, chromium, manganese, copper and selenium). The required amounts in diets for macro-elements must be greater than 100 mg/dL and less for micro-elements [95].
Sunflower seeds, oil and meal are known to be a source of several minerals [10][11][19][34]. The mineral composition is shown in Table 5. A total of 18 elements were found in seeds (Mg < Se < Ce < Ca < Tl < Zn < Mn < Cr < Cu < Ni < Be < Co < Ti < Fe < Li < Mo < Cd) and SFOC/C (Se < Ce < Ca < Tl < Zn < Cu < Mn < Cr < Sr < Be < Ni < Co < Fe < Mo < Li < Cd). In SFOC/PE were found 20 elements as follows: magnesium (4.76 g/Kg), selenium (1.99 g/Kg), cesium (1.02 g/Kg), calcium (1163.32 mg/Kg), thallium (587.97 mg/Kg), zinc (94.78 mg/Kg), strontium (72.97 mg/Kg), copper (61.15 mg/Kg), manganese (57.62 mg/Kg), chromium (52.79 mg/Kg), beryllium (32.96 mg/Kg), nickel (29.38 mg/Kg), titan (16,10 mg/Kg), cobalt (7.63 mg/Kg), iron II and III (5.26 mg/Kg, 3.35 mg/Kg), molybdenum (0.43 mg/Kg), lithium (0.34 mg/Kg), cadmium (0.23 mg/Kg) and antimony (0.02 mg/Kg). They were found only 14 elements in SFO of which thallium, cesium, magnesium and selenium presented high values, the others (Mo < Mn < Be < Cr < Cu < Li < Ni < Zn < Ti < Fe) presented proportions below 1%.
Table 5. Mineral composition of the sunflower seeds, oil and press-cakes.
Parameters SFS
Li 1.80 ± 0.01 a 0.34 ± 0.01 c 1.40 ± 0.0 b 0.20 ± 0.01 c
Be 20.89 ± 0.14 c 32.96 ± 0.55 a 31.48 ± 0.06 b 0.72 ± 0.03 d
Mg 3.89 ± 0.241 b 4.76 ± 0.131 a - 3.44 ± 0.15 c
Ca 573.02 ± 4.73 c 1163.32 ± 10.01 b 1522.08 ± 5.5 a -
Ti 7.04 ± 0.25 c 16.10 ± 0.26 b 18.38 ± 6.22 a 0.03 ± 0.0 d
Cr 35.70 ± 0.1 c 52.79 ± 0.38 b 58.24 ± 1.81 a 0.50 ± 0.01 d
Mn 36.91 ± 0.38 c 57.62 ± 0.21 b 65.73 ± 3.46 a 0.78 ± 0.03 d
Fe (II) 6.66 ± 0.13 a 5.26 ± 0.20 b 4.71 ± 2.71 c 0.01 ± 0. d
Fe (III) 6.40 ± 0.44 a 3.35 ± 0.17 b 2.51 ± 0.03 c -
Co 11.46 ± 0.69 a 7.63 ± 0.41 b 5.59 ± 0.35 c -
Ni 21.29 ± 1.30 c 29.38 ± 1.27 b 30.63 ± 1.40 a 0.19 ± 0.01 d
Cu 32.57 ± 1.79 c 61.15 ± 4.12 b 71.25 ± 3.36 a 0.21 ± 0.01 d
Zn 57.83 ± 2.54 c 94.78 ± 2.28 b 90.11 ± 4.36 a 0.09 ± 0.0 d
As - - - -
Se 1.22 ± 0.021 c 1.99 ± 0.071 b 3.18 ± 0.181 a 1.17 ± 0.0 d
Sr - 72.97 ± 2.42 a 35.42 ± 1.99 b -
Mo 0.34 ± 0.0 c 0.43 ± 0.01 c 1.62 ± 0.55 a 0.90 ± 0.01 b
Cd 0.16 ± 0.00 c 0.23 ± 0.01 b 0.26 ± 0.0 a -
Sb - 0.02 ± 0.0 a - -
Ce 0.33 ± 0.01 1 d 1.02 ± 0.01 1 b 1.85 ± 0.05 1 a 6.39 ± 0.35 c
Tl 523.84 ± 9.11 b 587.97 ± 17.80 a 417.12 ± 7.31 d 175.69 ± 4.56 c
The superscript number 1 indicates that the results are expressed as g/Kg. The analysis was performed in duplicate. Results are presented as values ± standard deviation. SFS—sunflower seeds, SFOC/PE—pellets sunflower oilcakes, SFOC/C—sunflower oilcakes in the form of cake, SFO—sunflower oil, Li—lithium, Be—beryllium, Mg—magnesium, Ca—calcium, Ti—titan, Cr—chromium, Mn—manganese, Fe—iron, Co—cobalt, Ni—nickel, Cu—copper, Zn—zinc, As—arsenic, Se—selenium, Sr—strontium, Mo—molybdenum, Cd—cadmium, Sb—antimony, Ce—cesium, Tl—thallium. Lowercase letters (a,b,c and d) refer to the comparison of the same element between the different samples; results followed by superscript letters are significantly different (p < 0.05%) according to Turkey’s post hoc test.
After oil extraction, most mineral composition of oilcakes increased, while Fe, Co and Li decreased. A low percentage of the elements goes into the oil. A comparison between the whole seeds, press-cakes and oil regarding the mineral composition reveals that press-cakes are richer and they are a valuable ingredient for new food products development. The results obtained were in accordance with those provided by other authors [53][96].
Calcium, cobalt, strontium, cadmium and antimony were the only elements that were not found in the oil, despite being present in sunflower seeds and oil. The elements presented only in sunflower oilcakes were strontium and antimony. The difference in elements composition was significant (95% confidence level) for all the samples studied.


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