9 Lesser Known Benefits Of Safflower Oil; Does It Really Aid In Weight Loss?

Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of a plant of the same name, safflower or Carthamus tinctorius. It is an annual plant with orange, yellow or red flowers and is mostly cultivated for the oil, some of the major producers being Kazakhstan, India and the United States.[1]  Safflower is also a crop that holds historical significance with its cultivation dating as far back as the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations.

Even though the plant is used for different purposes like textile dyeing and food colouring, it is now predominantly grown for extracting its rich, healthy oil. This is because safflower oil has multiple benefits which makes it a better alternative to other unhealthy oils that pose a threat to our health.

safflower oil benefits,

To mention a few, safflower oil helps us in boosting the immune system, keeps a check on the blood sugar levels, reduces cholesterol, improves cardiac health and so on. This article has attempted to shed more light on the same and tries to explain different benefits of the Safflower oil which may make you want to switch to it.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Safflower Oil

1. Reduces inflammation

The anti-inflammatory properties of Safflower oil have been evaluated and confirmed by different studies conducted over the year.[2] [3] The Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), the major component present in safflower[4] is an amazing anti-inflammatory agent.[5]  According to a 2007 study, it was inferred that the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil could also be rendered by the amount of Vitamin E present in it [6]. Altogether, Safflower oil reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system, keeping us healthier and more resistant to< infections.

2. Reduces free radical damage

All cooking oils contain certain beneficial compounds because of which we use them for cooking our food. Although, each oil has a certain smoking point, at or beyond which the compounds in it start to turn into harmful free radicals which cause damage to the body. Hence, the higher the smoking point of an oil, the better it is for cooking at high temperatures.

Safflower oil in its refined, as well as semi-refined state, has a high smoke point - 266 degrees Celsius and 160 degrees Celsius respectively [15] , which makes it better than most other cooking oils - even olive oil! This is the reason Safflower oil is highly recommended while you're cooking something at high temperatures. Although, the fact still remains that it is an oil and should be used in moderation.

3. Boosts heart health

Modern food-habits coupled with the lack of proper exercise leave people with high levels of bad cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein), which ultimately contributes to cardiac diseases like stroke. The Alpha-Linoleic Acid present in safflower oil is an omega-3 fatty acid which is required by our body in generous amounts to keep a check on our cholesterol.

Since ALA is the largest constituent of safflower, the oil, therefore, contains large amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. With constant use of the oil, the level of bad cholesterol has been found to lower, thereby reducing the risk of cardiac diseases like heart attacks.[7]

4. Lowers blood sugar

Safflower oil is considered a good product especially for the people who suffer from Diabetes. This is because it contains polyunsaturated fats which have been proven to lower blood glucose levels. A study conducted with obese post-menopausal women with Type 2 Diabetes found out that consuming the oil not just lowers glucose levels but also helps in controlling insulin secretion and insulin resistance.[8] [9]

5. Promotes healthy skin

The use of safflower oil is not just limited to oral consumption. It can also be used on your skin to get great results! The linoleic acid present in the oil helps in fighting blackheads and acne, unclogging pores and controlling sebum. Along with that, the acid also stimulates the growth of new skin cells, thereby helping it regenerate.

As the skin regenerates, it heals the scars and pigmentation. The oil can also be used to repair dry skin. It is because of these properties of the oil and the presence of Vitamin E in it that it has been made use of in the cosmetic industry.[10] [11]

6. Strengthens hair follicles

The vitamins and oleic acid present in the safflower oil are the two main factors behind this property of the oil. The oil increases the circulation of blood on the scalp. This, in turn, stimulates the scalp and thereby helps in strengthening the hair follicles right from their roots. It is an added benefit that the oil also leaves your hair shiny and promotes hair growth.[12]

safflower- Info graphics

7. Relieves constipation

Constipation can be a very hard thing to deal with and if not dealt with properly, it may lead to other medical conditions. Safflower oil has been known to have laxative properties which help to relieve constipation. According to a study conducted to obtain insights into the medicinal uses of safflower oil,[13]  the oil really does contain laxative properties and has been used for the same purpose traditionally.

8. Reduces PMS symptoms

Yet another difficult situation to handle, PMS or premenstrual syndrome is something that a lot of women experience during or just before the onset of their menstrual cycle, wherein they may feel irritable, confused, etc. This coupled with the pain causes a lot of uneasiness.

Safflower oil supposedly has the ability to reduce the PMS symptoms. This is because the linoleic acid present in the oil can control prostaglandins - something that causes hormonal changes and PMS. Even though safflower cannot fully eradicate the pain, it still helps reduce it.[14]

9. Relieves migraines

According to a 2018 study, the linoleic and linolenic acids present in safflower oil can effectively act against chronic migraines.[17]  It is a safe, effective and simple method to get rid of horrible migraines and headaches. Just apply a few drops of the oil and massage gently.

Nutritional Value of Safflower Oil

Safflower oil contains 5.62 g of water and 517 kcal per 100 grams. It also contains.

safflower oil- Nutrition value

Source - [15]

Is Safflower Oil Good For Weight Loss?

The reason why safflower oil is sometimes considered while trying to lose weight is that it contains CLA or Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Even though CLA aids weight loss, Safflower oil contains only trace amounts of it. One gram of safflower oil contains only 0.7 mg of CLA.[16]  That is, if you're relying on the CLA from safflower oil to help you lose weight, you'd have to consume large amounts of safflower oil, which is bound to have adverse effects on your health.

What you can do is to either use chemically altered safflower oil-based CLA supplements or use Safflower oil as a part of your nutritious balanced diet. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids naturally present in the oil can be a great addition to your healthy diet. The bottom line is that safflower oil is not a great choice while you're trying to lose weight.

Precautions While Using Safflower Oil

Here are a few things one should consider before using safflower oil.

• It is always advisable to consult a doctor before you start including it in your diet or body, especially if you're someone suffering from any form of allergies.
• Do not consume too much of the oil every other day, however beneficial it may seem.
• Safflower can hinder the process of blood clotting. Hence if you suffer from any such disorders which include bleeding, keep away from the oil.
• If you've just undergone a medical procedure, are about to have one or have had it in the past, consult your doctor first.
• Although the oil is anti-inflammatory because of the omega 3 fatty acids, the presence of omega 6 fatty acids alongside may end up not giving the desired results. Hence, make sure you strike a fine balance while buying oil that contains almost equal compositions of both the acids.

To Conclude...

Safflower oil is definitely a versatile oil in that it has such a wide variety of health benefits on offer. Proper and controlled use over time is sure to cleanse the body and improve the overall health of the body as well as the skin.

View Article References
  1. [1] Production quantities of Rice, paddy by country. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QC/visualize
  2. [2] Asgarpanah, J., & Kazemivash, N. (2013). Phytochemistry, pharmacology and medicinal properties of carthamus tinctorius L. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 19(2), 153–159.
  3. [3] Wang, Y., Chen, P., Tang, C., Wang, Y., Li, Y., & Zhang, H. (2014). Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of extract and two isolated flavonoids of Carthamus tinctorius L. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(2), 944–950
  4. [4] Matthaus, B., Özcan, M. M., & Al Juhaimi, F. Y. (2015). Fatty acid composition and tocopherol profiles of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) seed oils. Natural Product Research, 29(2), 193–196.
  5. [5] Matthaus, B., Özcan, M. M., & Al Juhaimi, F. Y. (2015). Fatty acid composition and tocopherol profiles of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) seed oils. Natural Product Research, 29(2), 193–196.
  6. [6] Masterjohn,C. (2007). The anti-inflammatory properties of safflower oil and coconut oil may be mediated by their respective concentrations of vitamin e. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 49(17), 1825-1826.
  7. [7] Khalid, N., Khan, R. S., Hussain, M. I., Farooq, M., Ahmad, A., & Ahmed, I. (2017). A comprehensive characterisation of safflower oil for its potential applications as a bioactive food ingredient-a review. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 66, 176–186.
  8. [8] Asp, M. L., Collene, A. L., Norris, L. E., Cole, R. M., Stout, M. B., Tang, S. Y., … Belury, M. A. (2011). Time-dependent effects of safflower oil to improve glycemia, inflammation and blood lipids in obese, post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-masked, crossover study. Clinical Nutrition, 30(4), 443–449.
  9. [9] Guo, K., Kennedy, C. S., Rogers, L. K., Ph, D., & Guo, K. (2011). The Role of Dietary Safflower Oil in the Management of Glucose Levels in Obese Postmenopausal Women with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus A Senior Honors Research Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Graduation with honors research dist, 1–19.
  10. [10] Domagalska, B. W. (2014). Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) – forgotten cosmetic plant, (June), 2–6.
  11. [11] Lin, T.-K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(1), 70.⁠
  12. [12] Junlatat, J., & Sripanidkulchai, B. (2014). Hair growth-promoting effect of Carthamus tinctorius floret extract. Phytotherapy Research, 28(7), 1030–1036.
  13. [13] Delshad, E., Yousefi, M., Sasannezhad, P., Rakhshandeh, H., & Ayati, Z. (2018). Medical uses of Carthamus tinctorius L. (Safflower): a comprehensive review from Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine. Electronic Physician, 10(4), 6672–6681.
  14. [14] Method and dosage form for treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Retrieved from https://patents.google.com/patent/US5140021A/en
  15. [15] United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Safflower seed kernels.
  16. [16] Chin, S. F., Liu, W., Storkson, J. M., Ha, Y. L., & Pariza, M. W. (1992). Dietary sources of conjugated dienoic isomers of linoleic acid, a newly recognized class of anticarcinogens. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 5(3), 185–197.
  17. [17] Santos, C., & Weaver, D. F. (2018). Topically applied linoleic/linolenic acid for chronic migraine. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.
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