I wondered what was the best, in one hand for the health (but I guess the question should be asked somewhere else, shouldn't it?) and in the other hand for the earth.

Which one, if there is one, is more (or less) eco-friendly? Which one is more efficient (space used versus productivity)? Also, depending on our location, consuming one type of oil rather than the other might be worth to consider (depending on where they can grow, where they are usually grown and so the fuel needed to deliver them to our location in one form or another). How many energy is required to process each? Is there more useful byproducts coming from sunflowers or from an olive tree? Etc.

EDIT: Just putting that here: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=sunflower+oil+versus+olive+oil&t=canonical

EDIT: Also, please never forget to check if the oil you are using can be used for cooking or not. Some are very unhealthy to cook. For instance, my sunflower oil says that it shouldn't be cooked over 175 C°. Always check!

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    I agree that the health side of the question isn't really on-topic here. There is a Nutrition proposal in Area 51 where it would fit nicely, but you won't be able to ask until it starts up as a site. Commented May 20, 2013 at 4:43
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    @HighlyIrregular Though… thinking back… isn't trying to stay healthy could be considered as trying to live sustainably? Aha, I know why I first thought it wasn't but I guess it could kinda be.
    – jeromej
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 6:16
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    If asked properly the nutritional aspect may be suitable for biology.SE.
    – Stockfisch
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 10:07
  • @HighlyIrregular Sadly closed. Health beta seems to be the next most promising place now: health.stackexchange.com/q/1017/543
    – jeromej
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


There is a presentation comparing the environmental impact of different vegetable oils here (direct download link to pdf!).

It is shown that olive oil has less impact regarding the output of greenhouse gases and substances that contribute to acidification, eutrophication and the generation of photochemical smog though it requires more space to grow it. The energy demand is roughly the same. Both oils perform worse compared to other vegetable oils.

Transport is shown to be a less important factor in the life cycle, contributing < 20% to the represented impact categories. Given that an "environmental friendly" mode is chosen (container ships rather than trucks or airplanes) long distance transport may not be as harmful.

The presentation seems to compare different publications of life cycle assessments concerning these products. Be very careful interpreting these results as differences in the methodology employed among studies make in generally a complex task to draw general conclusions from these kind of comparisons.

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    I have requested more information about this data source .. if I get them I'll update the question.
    – Stockfisch
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 10:04
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    Perhaps you could try and persuade the author of the study to come here and answer the question himself?
    – THelper
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 10:49
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    The link to the pdf no longer works.
    – tM --
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 20:06
  • @tM Damn… And I can't find it on archive.org or such… Maybe on my old computer when I can put my hand on it again. Thanks for reporting it!
    – jeromej
    Commented May 19, 2015 at 19:33
  • I suspect it's this: palmoilis.mpob.gov.my/publications/POD/pod51-erich.pdf @Stockfisch posted it as an answer to a similar question, and it covers what he describes. Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 2:00

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