Safflower Oil

Currently, safflower oil is hot favourite cooking oil; actually safflower is among the oldest crops cultivated by humans. Its cultivation can be traced back to 4000 BC in ancient Egypt.

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Writing tablets belonging to that period have revealed that ancient Egyptians used two types of safflower - which they called "red safflower" and "white safflower". The difference is between the two parts of safflower plants - the pale-hued seeds (known as white safflower) and the red-hued florets (known as red safflowers). In those times, people used the first colourful flowers of the variety of safflower cultivars as dyes for clothing.

In China, the traditional applications of this resourceful plant are dual. First, people there used the florets of safflower to add essence to rice dishes and soup. Second, traditional healers employ safflower herb therapeutically to revitalize the blood. They are applied topically to distressing injuries as poultice. These florets not only speed up healing, but also diminish pain. Those practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine recommend using safflower florets in the form of an herbal tea to treat fevers as well as reduce phlegm.

In present times, safflower is generally used as a substitute for saffron spice, which is in high demand worldwide. As this practice is widely prevalent across Europe, it has earned safflower the nickname "false saffron". In fact, this is very akin to the debate regarding "true cinnamon".

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In fact, restaurants as well as consumers conveniently use safflower as a substitute of saffron in dishes like saffron rice. This is because saffron is the priciest spice available these days. In terms of cost, vanilla comes second.

A vegetable oil, safflower oil is extracted from the safflower plant's seeds. The seeds of this plant are crushed, treated with chemical solvents or pressed to extract this vegetable oil.

This vegetable oil is widely used for culinary purpose. Moreover, often this oil is also used to produce margarine. In addition, it is used to make specific processed foods such as salad dressings. Safflower oil is also used in various cosmetics and skincare products because of its ability to reduce inflammation and, at the same time, keep the skin moisturized.

Aside from the gentle flavour of safflower oil, its vibrant color and high smoke point make it a healthy and preferred cooking oil. In addition safflower is non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism) in nature and its nutrition profile is very rich. Each serving of foods cooked in safflower oil contains high amounts of omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats and vitamin, all of which are beneficial for the health of our heart.

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In fact, two varieties of safflower oils are available - monounsaturated safflower oil and polyunsaturated safflower oil. Monounsaturated safflower oil is rich in oleic fatty acid content and is mainly used for cooking since its smoke point is very high. However, this type of safflower oil is less healthy compared to the polyunsaturated variety. On the other hand, the shelf life of monounsaturated safflower oil is more compared to polyunsaturated safflower oil.

Polyunsaturated safflower oil encloses linoleic fatty acids and this oil is used cold. The nutritional value of this variety of safflower oil is very high. It is also known to be very beneficial for the health of our heart. It is necessary to store this type of oil in a cool place or refrigerated.

Health benefits

Aside from its application in cooking, safflower oil offers several health benefits. This oil aids the body to get rid of excessive fat, thereby promoting weight loss. In addition, safflower oil reinforces the immune system, lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream, normalizes menstrual cycle, makes the skin healthier and promotes new hair growth. Safflower oil also has the potential to improve diabetes as it helps to get rid of excessive body fat and lowers the levels of blood sugar. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use safflower oil to revitalize the blood, cure amenorrhea or absence of menstruation, fritter away stasis and alleviate pain as well as traumatic injuries. In addition, safflower oil is also used to abort fetuses and, hence, pregnant women should use this oil very cautiously. On the other hand, this vegetable oil is employed to "calm" a live fetus.

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It has been found that safflower oil contains an elevated concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, which is essential for the overall health of our body. The main unsaturated fatty acid present in safflower oil is linoleic acid, which has several beneficial effects - for instance it improves the health of the heart and, at the same time, reduces inflammation. Hence, consumption of this vegetable oil helps to reduce the risks of developing atherosclerosis. It also diminishes the chances of developing other heart conditions like stroke and heart attack.

Safflower oil contains oleic acid, which is highly beneficial for the hair as well as the scalp. This unsaturated fatty acid also has the ability to improve blood supply to the scalp, promote hair growth and makes the hair follicles stronger. Together, all these help to make your hair stronger and healthier.

Since safflower oil possesses the ability to promote the health of your hair and increase its gloss, it is used in several cosmetics and hair products.

Many people use safflower oil for improving the health of their skin - because this vegetable oil possesses the ability to calm the skin and keep the dry skin hydrated. The skin boosting benefits of this vegetable oil is one of the reasons why it is generally incorporated in many cosmetics and skincare products.

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Aside from providing a vigorous dose of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, safflower oil is also loaded with vitamin E. We are all aware of the various benefits of using vitamin E and how it helps to improve the health of our skin. Findings of various studies have revealed that vitamin E has the potential to help in treating skin-related conditions such as acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. In addition, this vitamin is also capable of accelerating healing of wounds.

Since long, people have considered safflower oil to be a good option, especially for those who are keen to shed their additional body fat. This vegetable oil contains loads of omega-6 fatty acids, which may aid the body to burn out extra fat instead of storing it in the body. Some sections of the population that are enduring obesity like those suffering from type 2 diabetes, use safflower oil to increase lean muscle and, at the same time, reduce the levels of fasting glucose. Nevertheless, further studies are required on larger and more inclusive populations to accurately establish that the positive effects of safflower oil are universal.

Safflower oil contains elevated concentration of linoleic acid making this vegetable oil perfect for improving the appearance as well as the quality of your skin. Usually, linoleic acid combines with sebum to free the clogged skin pores and reduce the occurrences of blackheads. It also reduces acne owing to the build-up of sebum beneath the skin. In traditional medicine, it is believed that linoleic acid aids in stimulating the rejuvenation of new skin cells, thereby helping to resolve scars and blemishes from the surface of the skin.

The findings of a human pilot study that was published in the Vascular Health and Risk Management journal, revealed that supplementation of the safflower seeds has a positive effect on the brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) in people who suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).

A number of women endure terrible pain and uneasiness during menstruation. It is believed that in this case too linoleic acid can to some extent aid in regulating hormonal changeability during menstruation. This, in turn, may help to reduce the acuteness of some of the symptoms associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome).

Safflower oil also contains high concentration of unsaturated fats - both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are beneficial for the health of our heat and these have been related to lower levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. In fact, safflower oil especially contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats, which are effective in reducing the levels of low density lipo-protein (LDL) and total cholesterol. Both these types of cholesterol are considered harmful for the body as they may increase the risks of developing heart diseases.

Findings of some studies have shown that safflower oil is beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels and it may even help in reducing the chances of developing complications related to diabetes. For instance, a study undertaken by scientists at the Ohio State University discovered that consuming safflower oil every day for 16 weeks resulted in notable lessening in hemoglobin A1C, which is marker for assessing blood sugar control for a prolonged period of time.

Another study undertaken by scientists in Italy also established that giving up saturated fats for monounsaturated fats such as safflower oil can help to improve insulin sensitivity, thereby enabling your body to use insulin more effectively in regulating the blood sugar levels thereby maintaining a stable level of blood sugar.

It is believed that chronic inflammation is the root cause of several different diseases, such as heart disease, autoimmune conditions and even cancer. However, some studies have revealed that safflower oil may possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which are able to reduce more than a few important markers of inflammation, thereby helping to prevent the development of these diseases.

You should also always bear in mind that safflower oil encloses elevated amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, which has the ability to control inflammation, especially when they are consumed in large amounts. Ensure that you use safflower oil in combination with various other healthy fats, such as foods containing lots of omega-3 fatty acids, to derive the utmost health benefits of using this vegetable oil.

Safflower oil has a very high smoke point - at about 450° Fahrenheit, which makes it preferred cooking oil across the globe. In other words, you can cook foods in safflower oil at very high temperatures and still it would not oxidize or break releasing the detrimental free radicals. Therefore, safflower oil is a great option when you want to cook in high temperatures - such as roasting, frying or baking.

Safflower oil does not alter the aroma and taste of foods cooked with it. This is one of the major positive aspects of using this vegetable oil. In addition, when you select safflower oil for your cooking purposes, you choose an oil with a very high smoke point that will not produce harmful compounds like free radicals even when you are cooking at very high temperatures. Some other oils break at high temperatures and release such detrimental compounds. When these harmful compounds accumulate in the body, they give rise to diseases and inflammation, thereby enhancing the chances of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and even different forms of cancer.

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