With the increasing number of people dealing with weight issues, most of them on the overweight side, scientists and health care specialists direct their efforts towards finding new ways of keeping a healthy weight. The safflower oil has triggered their attention and has been the focus of several studies. Although additional research is needed in order to know precisely the way we can benefit from the use of safflower, researchers haven’t hesitated from associating it with several health benefits. Let’s find out more about safflower oil and the health advantages we can enjoy if using it.
Safflower oil is an oil made from the extract of the safflower seeds. The safflower plant and oil are both used as a health and nutritional supplement. Related to the sunflower, the safflower plant (known as Carthamus Tinctorius) looks very much like a thistle since it develops yellow/orange petals. These petals drop at some point thus exposing the seeds which can be used, after being removed, just as they are or can be treated. The petals of safflower are often used as a substitute for saffron in cooking since it has almost the same flavor and color as saffron.
The dried seeds are processed in specialized plants, pressed into oil and classified into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. The first category including monosaturated safflower is used in foods and cooking since it suits high temperatures. It should be stored in a dry, dark and cool place. Reduce the air and light that reaches the oil and you will also reduce the risk of oxidation. It is advised to buy the quantity you will use within several weeks or a couple of months in order for the oil to stay fresh. The polyunsaturated safflower oils contain linoleic acid and can be used only cold in foods like salads. Unlike the monosaturated oil, this type is not shelf-stable and should be stored in a cool place or a refrigerator. Since the seeds left untreated have a bitter taste, they are usually pressed into the oil to be further used in the making of several products such as cleansers and soaps.
What makes the safflower oils stand out, though, since there are so many other healthy oils out there? Compared to olive oil, safflower contains more vitamin E. This type of oil is also richer in essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega 6 than many other oils. Just like vegetable oils, safflower oil is tasteless, can be used at high temperatures and has heart-healthy properties. One of the great things about safflower is that it does not lose its nutritional properties and value even when used at high temperatures. The oil does not contain cholesterol which is another major plus.
Although there is still much debate on the health benefits of safflower oil use, several studies and voices associate this type of oil with an alleviation of the symptoms of several diseases including arteriosclerosis, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease. Such hypotheses generated by certain studies need to be further studied and tested before making such claims, though. Even so, many people have experienced various health benefits when using safflower oil.
Thanks to the high amount of vitamin E it contains, safflower oil can reduce respiratory problems, boost immunity and help blood circulation. Since this vitamin is known to help the body eliminate free radicals, it can lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. It’s low levels of saturated fats and high levels of unsaturated fats make the safflower a good option for people with heart problems.
Besides being used internally, safflower oil is also used externally. When rubbed into the roots of your hair, safflower oil boosts the hair quality and shine. It can also be used as a skin moisturizer and smoother and nail growth promoter. Hence its addition to many bath and body products. Safflower is also used to reduce redness, inflammation, and eczema as well as in massage lotions and oils since it is low in comedogenic action and it won’t clog pores.
Many people use this oil for its dietary properties and the benefits it has on one’s overall well-being. Enjoy these benefits by using safflower as part of a healthy and balanced diet. The safflower oil is comprised of 2.40% stearic fatty acids, 78.71% oleic fatty acids, 4.85% palmitic fatty acids, 12.44% linoleic fatty acids, and .08% linoleic fatty acids. It is also the only oil available on the market with such high linoleic acid concentration.
One study from Ohio State University involving safflower oil compared the effects the safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) triggered in two groups of people who took one of the two oils for 16 weeks. The study involved postmenopausal women diagnosed with type II diabetes. By the end of the trial, researchers found that women taking safflower oil enjoyed a greater abdominal fat reduction than the women taking CLA. The daily dose of 1 ¾ tablespoons of safflower oil used in the trial also improved good cholesterol (HDL), inflammation, blood sugar, and insulin sensitivity.
Unfortunately, side effects occurred as well. People allergic to daisies experienced an allergic reaction since safflower plants are part of the daisy family. The side effects patients who used safflower oil on a daily basis experienced include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
As with any other supplements, make sure you see your doctor before taking safflower oil. There are certain health conditions that can get worse if using certain supplements. If you have a heart condition or low blood pressure, the use of safflower oil can trigger a drop in your blood pressure. Plus, safflower oil is not recommended if you are pregnant since it can determine contractions and labor. Therefore, make sure you see your health care provider before taking any supplement, not only safflower oil.