Six health benefits of safflower oil

Research suggests that safflower oil can provide some health benefits , particularly for inflammation of the blood sugar, cholesterol and skin.

Safflower oil is a popular cooking oil originating from the safflower plant seeds. Some evidence shows that when people use it in the diet and on the skin, it can have some health benefits.

Safflower oil, due to its high smoke point and neutral flavor, can be a safer choice than olive oil while cooking at high temperatures.

In this article we mention the safflower oil ‘s greatest health benefits. We also discuss the effects of safflower oil for weight loss.

Six health benefits of safflower oil

Safflower oil offers potentially a variety of benefits. Below, we discuss the evidence behind six key benefits of safflower oil:

1. A healthful source of fatty acids

Safflower oil is made from the safflower plant.
Safflower oil is made from the safflower plant.

Safflower oil, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids.

To function the body needs those fats. In general, experts see unsaturated fatty acids as healthier than saturated fats.

Dietary fats, such as those found in safflower oil, are vital to hormone regulation and memory. These are important if the body is to be able to consume fat-soluble vitamins A, D , E and K. Eating some fat with meals can also help someone feel more fuller.

Safflower oil is lower than olive oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil in saturated fats which are often considered “bad” fats.

There are many health benefits to a diet high in “good” fats and low in “bad” fats, including reducing inflammation and improving heart health.

Safflower oil has two types: high-oleic and high-linoleic. Both are unsaturated with fatty acids.

Similar to olive oil, the high oleic form of safflower oil contains monounsaturated fats and is a good choice for high temperature cooking.

High-linoleic safflower oil contains more polyunsaturated fat content. It is not appropriate for heating but is perfect for dressing in salad.

2. Improves blood sugar levels

A systematic review of the 2016 studies suggests eating a diet high in unsaturated fats can improve the control of a person’s blood glucose.

The study found that replacing some carbohydrate or saturated fat sources with unsaturated fatty acids, particularly polyunsaturated fats, had a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, as well as on insulin resistance and insulin secretion.

A research in 2011 indicated that consuming 8 grammes ( g) of safflower oil daily for 4 months could minimise inflammation while raising blood sugar in some individuals with type 2 diabetes.

It should be noted that the participants in this study were women with type 2 diabetes who also had obesity and were past the menopause stage.

Researchers say that in addition to diabetes therapies, people may use quality dietary fats to reduce complications associated with the condition.

3. Lowers cholesterol, boosts heart health

The same study in 2011 also reports that the blood cholesterol levels of the participants improved after use of safflower oil for 4 months.

These findings support the suggestion that unsaturated fats may lower low-density lipoprotein ( LDL) or “bad,” cholesterol in the blood, by the American Heart Association. High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiac illness.

Safflower oil can also in other ways contribute to the heart health.

In safflower oil the unsaturated fats can thin the blood and make the platelets less sticky. This may help to prevent blood clots which can cause heart attack and stroke. Blood vessels may also be affected by safflower oil by relaxing them and reducing blood pressure.

4. Fights inflammation

Safflower oil also can possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Safflower oil and the unsaturated fatty acids in safflower oil improved markers of inflammation according to a study in Clinical Nutrition. This can help with numerous conditions including diabetes and heart disease.

5. Soothes dry skin

The topical application of safflower oil to dry or inflamed skin can help to soothe it and give the skin a soft and smooth appearance. Although most safflower oil research for the skin is anecdotal, it is a common ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products.

Safflower oil contains vitamin E which can be responsible for some of the benefits to the skin. For decades vitamin E has been a significant ingredient in dermatological products.

Some research suggests that vitamin E protects the skin from the effects of sunlight and free radicals, which are harmful molecules that damage body cells and contribute to disease.

Do a patch test before using safflower oil on the skin. Rub an oil drop into your arm, and wait 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, then use is likely safe.

6. Safe for cooking at high temperatures

Not all of the oils are safe to fry. This is because delicate oils can overheat and create free radicals.

At high temperatures high-oleic safflower oil is safe to cook with. That monounsaturated oil actually has a higher smoke point than many other oils, including:

  • corn oil
  • canola oil
  • olive oil
  • sesame oil

Safflower also has a milder taste than other oils like olive and coconut, making it a better option for deep frying, frying pan or baking.

Individuals should not however heat polyunsaturated safflower oil. Save it for drizzling over steamed vegetables and making vinaigrettes. Keep the oil in the fridge so it does not turn rancid.

Safflower oil for weight loss

Pouring oil in pan
Safflower oil is not a low-calorie food.

Some people consider safflower oil as a weight loss aid, but little research is being done in this area.

Some research, including a 2011 review, show no major effects of safflower oil on weight or body fat.

Safflower oil is not a low-calorie food at 120 calories per table cubic metre. Eating too many calories, whatever their source, can have an adverse effect on weight-loss efforts.

But adding a small amount of this oil to food will improve its taste, increase the feeling of being full and regulate blood sugar — both of which can have a beneficial effect on weight control.

Limiting the intake of oils to recommended amounts and concentrating on consuming whole foods such as fruits, vegetables , whole grains and lean protein sources can be beneficial when attempting to lose weight.

Every day the initiative ‘Choose My Plate’ recommends the following intake of oils per teaspoon (tsp):

SexAgeRecommended daily oil
Female19–306 tsp
Female30+5 tsp
Male19–307 tsp
Male30+6 tsp

Nevertheless, the 2015–2020 American Dietary Guidelines state that the majority of oils consumed in the United States are processed foods, such as:

  • salad dressings
  • mayonnaise
  • prepared (fast food) meals and snacks
  • corn and potato chips

When calculating the daily intake of oil, remember to include these fats as well as healthy fat sources, such as those naturally found in nuts , seeds, and fish.

Side effects of safflower oil

Most people will have no adverse reaction to the safflower oil as long as they consume it in the daily amounts recommended.

As safflower can thin the blood, it may slow down the clotting of the blood, which may increase the risk of bleeding in:

  • people who have bleeding disorders
  • those undergoing surgery

Outlook

Safflower oil contains good fats referred to as unsaturated fatty acids.

It may deliver health benefits when consumed in moderation, such as blood sugar management, improved heart health and lower inflammation levels.

It can be used topically by people to treat dry skin, and is safe to use when cooking at high temperatures.

Safflower, as with all oils, is high in calories, and low in many nutrients. Hence it should be used sparingly by people and as part of a balanced diet.

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