Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
The safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is an annual, spiny herb that was once cultivated for use as food and clothing dye. Today, it is highly prized for its oil, which is regarded as a healthier alternative to other vegetable oils. There are two types of safflower oil: monounsaturated safflower oil and polyunsaturated safflower oil. Both oils are odorless, tasteless, and colorless; but monounsaturated safflower oil has a higher smoke point while polyunsaturated safflower oil is more delicate. Though cultivated in over 60 countries the overall yield of safflower oil is only 600,000 tons per year globally.
Safflower oil possesses a high content of omega-6 fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid. This acid can contribute immensely to overall health by stabilizing cholesterol, managing blood sugar levels, and aiding the body in burning fat. Safflower oil has different nutrients besides linoleic acid, including:
Linoleic acid balances out prostaglandins. These lipids control numerous processes such as inflammation and blood flow, and can cause dramatic hormonal fluctuations during menstruation. Safflower oil minimizes the severity of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, similar to hormonal supplements but without the side effects. Besides the symptoms of PMS, safflower oil can mitigate:
An ounce of safflower oil offers 55 percent of the recommended daily value of copper, a mineral with anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, safflower oil is ideal for patients suffering from arthritis since copper can diminish the symptoms associated with that condition. The phosphorus in safflower (about 26.14 percent of the recommended daily value in one ounce) provides further help by eliminating muscle weakness and fatigue.
By keeping cholesterol to healthy levels, safflower oil decreases the chances of developing cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
Safflower oil acts as a blood thinner and dramatically slows down blood clotting, so any individuals with a blood clotting problem are advised to avoid this oil. Individuals with a ragweed allergy shouldn’t use safflower oil because the plant belongs to the same botanical family as ragweed.
Apart from providing relief during the menstrual cycle, linoleic acid enhances skin quality and appearance. Linoleic acid accomplishes this by mixing with the sebum in skin to unclog pores and by promoting the regeneration of new skin cells. The result is younger-looking skin clear of scars and blemishes like acne and blackheads. As a nourishing oil, safflower oil can sustain more than the skin:
With two types of safflower oil on the market, there are a good number of dishes that can be made with both oils.
The higher smoke point in monounsaturated safflower oil makes it perfect for high-heat cooking methods like frying, baking, and sautéing. Vegetable tempura (yasai tempura), oven-baked potato wedges, fried eggs, and chicken can all become healthier when monounsaturated safflower oil is used.
Conversely, polyunsaturated safflower oil should not be exposed to anything except low heat. In fact this type of safflower oil is best stored in the refrigerator. Even if polyunsaturated safflower oil can’t be used for high-heat cooking, it can still added to salad dressings and sauces.
Safflower oil can even be used with grape seed oil as a skin moisturizer or an anti-inflammatory topical application. Besides its concentration of moisture-locking linoleic acid, safflower oil is relatively mild and doesn’t aggravate the skin.
Safflower oil can be used to alleviate certain symptoms of arthritis.
It can also eliminate muscle weakness and fatigue.
Safflower oil reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
Safflower oil is also a great blood thinner and slows down blood clotting.
Individuals with a ragweed allergy should not use safflower oil.
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