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ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS: Flower Power

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Flower Power



I’m pretty sure you’re all familiar with sunflowers and its oil. Whether you’ve seen one up close or h
ave collected their rays to fight hoards of zombies, I think it’s safe to say you know what sunflowers are and are fairly acquainted with them. But are you familiar with safflowers and safflower oils (and no, I neither have any trouble pronouncing sunflowers nor am I making up another plant species)?

Believe it or not, sunflowers and safflowers are actually related. According to Corinna Underwood in her article over on livestrong.com, both are polyunsaturated oils which are commonly used as cooking oils and are healthier than either corn or soybean oil. And like its “cousin,” safflower oil has a hefty dose of health benefits.

Perhaps the biggest benefit that safflower oil has is its richness in “good fats.” Having a high concentration of unsaturated fats while having low quantities of saturated fats (lower, in fact, than olive oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil) translate to a mix of advantages for the body. For one, this improves blood sugar levels. According to a study by Michelle Asp and her colleagues in 2011, it is suggested that consuming 8 grams of safflower oil daily for 4 months may improve blood sugar in some people with type 2 diabetes. Secondly, it lowers cholesterol. As an effect, safflower oil lowers the risk of heart disease. Because safflower oil is an effective blood thinner, it helps prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke. Safflower oil is also known to relax blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure.

Not only that, safflower oil is good for the skin as well. Because safflower oil is rich in vitamin E, applying it topically to dry or inflamed skin may help soothe it, giving the skin a soft and smooth appearance. The vitamin E in safflower oil helps protect the skin from free radicals, harmful chemicals that damage cells in the body. (If you want to learn more about the benefits of vitamin E, read all about it in our previous blog here.)

Speaking of free radicals, the last benefit of safflower oil is that it is safe for cooking at high temperatures. As Jayne Leonard over on medicalnewsotday.com puts it, “Not all oils are safe to use for frying. This is because overheating delicate oils can create free radicals.” It’s a good thing, then, that safflower oil has a high smoke point, higher even than corn oil, canola oil, olive oil, and sesame oil.

Just be careful of its potential side effects. As previously mentioned, safflower oil can thin the blood and slow down the clotting of blood. This may adversely increase the risk of bleeding and is, therefore, inadvisable for people who have bleeding disorders (e.g., hemorrhagic diseases, stomach or intestinal ulcers, or clotting disorders) or those undergoing surgery.

Overall, I think safflower oil’s benefits outweigh its potential side effects. Its high unsaturated fat content and low saturated fat content itself already deserves much merit, and its uses as a skin softener (in fact, we use it on our Daily Moisturizing Lotion with 15% Vitamin C) and cooking oil are already more than you can say for most other oils. So when you think of the sunflower and the benefits of its oil, don’t forget its distant cousin, the safflower. It’s similar to the sunflower in appearance, and its health benefits are just as promising.


SOURCES:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/399182-safflower-vs-sunflower-oil/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322245.php

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-96/safflower

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