There is a lot of interest in alternative oils these days. Coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil are all popular, but when discussing oils, we often forget about safflower oil. This little-known oil is a fantastic alternative to any of the oils as mentioned above, and not just for cooking. Safflower oil, derived from a flower, has many health benefits that can include (but are not limited to) helping to prevent diabetes, skin problems, aiding in weight loss and more.
If you are sick of the same dull oils, you should learn more about the diverse and helpful safflower oil.
What is Safflower oil?
Safflower is an ancient crop, which grows naturally in Asia, India, Africa and the Mediterranean. The ripe seeds of the safflower plant have orange, yellow and red thistle-like flowers and yield the safflower oil. The safflower oil produced from the seed that has been peeled, conditioned, flaked, and extracted has the highest linoleic acid content (about 80 percent) of all the vegetable oils.
There are two types of safflower oil: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. The polyunsaturated contains omega six fatty acids called linoleic acid. This oil is best when used cold. It has high nutritional value and is called a heart-healthy oil. You must refrigerate it or store in a cool place. Unlike other oils, you don’t use this for cooking. Instead, it is used for sauces and salad dressings.
The monounsaturated oil contains oleic fatty acids. You can use this one for cooking, though, because of its high smoking point. It’s mild tasting with a neutral aroma and is ideal for sautéing and deep frying. Keep this oil in the pantry and not by the stove to protect it from sunlight and heat. It will keep for several months if stored properly.
Health Benefits of Safflower Oil
Though olive oil may get all the press, safflower oil is emerging as a healthy oil in its own right. This nutrient oil is an excellent source of vitamin E and promotes a robust immune system and cell signaling. That’s not all, though!
A significant source of fatty acids
Safflower oil is an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids or “good fats.” The lipids present in this oil are crucial for memory and hormone regulation. These fats help the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Safflower oil contains lower levels of saturated fats called the bad fats. If you eat a diet rich in good fats, you’ll enjoy good heart health and reduced inflammation in your body.
Promotes heart health
A study by the Ohio State University researchers found that a daily dose of safflower oil keeps heart disease at bay. The researchers also found that when consumed daily for 16 weeks, safflower oil improved good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity. The unsaturated fats present in safflower oil thin the blood. As a result, the platelets become less sticky which helps to prevent blood clots. This vegetable oil relaxes blood vessels thereby reduces the blood pressure.
Improves blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, you’ll have consistently high blood sugar levels. Over time, these high levels will damage your body and will result in many diseases. The American Diabetes Association says that 86 million people in the US have diabetes. A 2016 based systemic review of research studies say that if you follow a diet high in unsaturated fats, it will enhance your blood glucose control.
Moreover, the study points out that if you replace some sources of saturated fats or carbohydrates especially with polyunsaturated fats, it will benefit your blood sugar levels, as well as insulin secretion and insulin resistance.
Chronic inflammation can put you at risk of a lot of health problems like inflammatory bowel disorder, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in Clinical Nutrition says that the unsaturated fatty acids present in safflower oil improved markers of inflammation.
For joint pain relief
The joint pain stops you from functioning to your full potential. Therapists favor safflower oil as a massage oil because it reduces inflammation and is safe to use. That is great because regular massages help to relieve chronic osteoarthritis. The pain gets reduced because the muscles surrounding the joints tend to relax. Massaging reduces stiffness and enhances the better range of motion and mobility.
The well known antioxidant flavonoid present in safflower oil is Quercetin. It reduces inflammation that results from gout and arthritis.
Helps in weight loss
Not only losing your extra pounds is a tough job, but obesity leads to many diseases. Researchers found that safflower oil can fight against the excess buildup of fat in your body. The Ohio State University researchers found that the conjugated linoleic acid present in safflower oil reduced abdominal fat. The oil also increased lean muscle in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes who supplemented it for about 16 weeks.
For flawless skin
Safflower oil acts as a lubricant and help in moisture retention of your skin. You can apply this oil to hydrate parched skin, to smoothen rough patches, and also to improve the tone and texture of your skin. Safflower oil is a noncomedogenic oil, meaning it’s light and does not block your skin pores.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, you can use this vegetable oil to treat pimples and acne spots. Furthermore, it helps to unclog the pores and can be used a few times a week. For spot treatment, combine oatmeal or honey with safflower oil and apply the mixture to your face. Allow it for ten minutes and rinse it off.
Likewise, you can use this oil to treat eczema. Safflower oil acts as a topical moisturizer and helps to maintain the integrity of the outer layer of skin while preventing flaking. Apply pure safflower oil to your skin as often as possible. If you’re using it with diluted essential oil, then use it once or twice daily.
Relieves menstrual pain
The painful sensation that affects women before or during a menstrual period is called menstrual cramps. The pain may range from dull, to severe and extreme. Stress can increase the severity of menstrual cramps. Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, sweating, dizziness, headache, and diarrhea.
The prostaglandins regulate your hormones and cause menstrual symptoms in your body. Research has found that safflower oil governs prostaglandins. So, including safflower oil in your diet during and before your period might help to reduce symptoms. However, if you suffer from severe menstrual pain, it’s better to visit your gynecologist than resorting to self-medication.
For healthy locks
Protein deficiency is one of the primary reasons for hair loss and baldness. This nutrient oil is highly beneficial for hair growth because it prevents loss of proteins. Vitamin E is richly present in safflower oil and acts as an antioxidant and moisturizer for your hair. Also known as alpha-tocopherol vitamin E hydrates your scalp and fights against free radicals that may appear as a result of stress or UV rays.
The Arachidonic acid which is an omega six polyunsaturated fatty acid present in safflower oil activates the specialized fibroblasts in the bulb of your hair follicles and promotes hair growth.
This vegetable oil is a significant source of oleic acid which is light and can penetrate your hair quickly. When you massage this oil, it dilates your blood vessels and ensures increased nutrient supply to your hair roots. This oil not only promotes hair growth but also protects, nourish and hydrate your hair since it’s a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Boosts immune system
A robust immune system signifies a healthy body. The anti-inflammatory properties of conjugated linoleic acid regulate your body’s inflammatory and immune responses. Moreover, it even boosts your liver health and supports detoxification. The CLA present in safflower oil builds resistance to infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies and inflammatory disorders.
A Note of Caution
Though there are side effects to taking safflower oil or its supplements, they are rare. Safflower oil may trigger an allergic reaction if you’re sensitive to daisies. Similarly, if you have a ragweed allergy, you could be allergic to safflower oil.
The gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps may occur in patients who use safflower oil. Likewise, nausea and unpleasant after-taste also happen for those who take safflower oil as a supplement.
High levels of safflower oil can lower the blood pressure. So you must be cautious if you have hypotension because low blood pressure may reduce to dangerous levels if you take safflower supplements. During clinical trials, some patients reported chest pain, changes in heart rate and rapid breathing while taking safflower supplements. Though this side effect is infrequent, it’s better to consult a doctor before taking safflower supplements.
In like manner, if you have a blood disorder or medical condition seek medical advice because aspirin, ibuprofen, and anticoagulants, may increase the risk of bleeding if taken along with safflower. This vegetable oil could interfere with blood sugar stability and diabetes management. Some people believe that safflower oil may induce contractions and start the onset of labor. Therefore it’s not okay to use during pregnancy.
Give it a Shot
If you do not fall into any of the categories listed above, this excellent oil is worth trying. Not only can you use it in the kitchen, but you can use it in the bathroom to improve your skin and hair. There is an abundance of health benefits associated with it, and it is tasty. It’s a win, win!