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Safflower Oil, Are the Benefits Real?

Updated on September 3, 2016

Does safflower oil offer any health benefits, beyond being good for your skin and hair? I will let you be the judge.

But first, it is important to learn a little bit about the safflower plant.


Safflower Plant-The Type of Oil It Creates

Safflower oil is derived from a plant called the safflower plant. The plant is a thistle-like annual, having yellow, red and orange flowers.

Most notably, the flowers of the safflower plant have been commercially cultivated for years for its seeds in the making of vegetable oil, dyes, and flavorings.

However, safflower oil has once again drawn the attention of researchers because it contains a good fatty acid called linoleic acid. The body cannot produce this type of fat, so it must be derived from food.

Has this been a recent discovery? No, not really. There was research done on these oils dating back to the 1960s that did suggest that these oils from plant sources could help prevent heart disease. However, the omega-3 fish oils gained popularity and safflower oil attention declined. Does it mean that you should throw out the fish oil, no. It may mean that safflower oil and fish oil have a place in your heart health regimen.


The Good Fatty Acids

Some assume all fats are bad. In fact, that is a fallacy. There are some fats that are good for you and which you should incorporate into your diet. What is the job of the good fats? The good fats main job is to carry vitamins A, D, E, and K, known as the fat-soluble vitamins, into and around the body.

This is where safflower oil resurfaces in studies. It does show that safflower oil has the highest source of polyunsaturated fats than any other vegetable oil. It contains approximately 79% polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid), monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and vitamins. Yes, these fats are good fats and are important to your body.

Now that you have an idea of what constitutes the safflower plant, let’s look at the possible benefits that the oil, which is developed from the seeds do offer you.



Quick Safflower Facts

  • One tablespoon of safflower oil contains about 120 calories, with roughly 14 to 15 grams of fat. However, it contains only 1 gram of saturated fat (bad fat) versus the remaining unsaturated fat (healthy fat).


Difference between Good and Bad Fats

Bad Fats

Saturated fats contribute to clogged arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

  • Trans Fats
  • Saturated Fats

Good Fats

  • Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Monounsaturated Fats
  • Unsaturated Fats

Benefit Claims of Safflower Oil

As I mentioned earlier, the oil does contain linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid. People have purported that this fatty acid can help your health in many ways.


Heart Health

Many online sites state that it helps to control cholesterol level, decrease the accumulation of plaque on the walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis), and thus, helps in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

When it comes to cholesterol, from what I have read and researched, it has the possibility of lowering your LDL but does not help with your HDL or your triglycerides.


High Blood Pressure

From all the few studies that have been conducted, the results are conflicting. In one small study it did show a lowering of blood pressure, but in another, the blood pressure remained the same after a 6 week period.


Diabetes/Pre-Diabetes

As one knows, people with diabetes or pre-diabetes, need to control their blood sugar levels. And the omega-6 fatty acid is purported to do that. However, with a small study group of people who had diabetes, took safflower oil for about 3 weeks. The results showed that it did not lower blood sugar levels, but instead increased blood glucose levels.


Weight Loss

Since safflower oil contains a lot of the omega-6 fatty oil. And omega-6 has the reputation of burning fat. It can be assumed that it can help you to burn fat and to lose weight. Sorry, wrong. The studies have been too small, and among studies it cannot be determined whether it can or cannot be beneficial for weight loss.

Note: If you do decide to try safflower oil, be aware that safflower oil can slow down your blood from clotting. In addition, if you have an allergy, such as ragweed, avoid safflower oil because it could give you an allergic reaction.


Conclusions

Everyone likes that magic bullet, but based on the limited studies and I would venture to say that those limited studies did not have any control groups. My take, I would proceed with caution especially if you have clotting issues, on a blood thinner or you are allergic to ragweed.

References

(Safflower Oil Uses and effectiveness--http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-96-safflower.aspx?activeingredientid=96& )

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