Safflower Oil Facts

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Safflower oil comes from the seeds of a safflower plant. The oil provides either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat, both of which are a source of omega-6, an essential fatty acid that your body needs but does not produce on it’s own. The American Heart Association suggests using safflower oil as one of your main cooking oils. In moderation, safflower oil can provide your body with numerous health benefits.

History

The Safflower plant is a member of the sunflower family. It is an annual crop native to the Mediterranean, India, parts of Asia and Africa. The use of safflower dates back over 4,000 years. Today, many areas of the southwest, including California and Arizona are home to the safflower crop.

Benefits

The American Diabetes Association recommends including safflower oil in your diet to lower the risk of heart disease. When using polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats to replace saturated fats you help to lower your total cholesterol levels. The omega-6 in safflower oil helps to maintain cognitive and skin health and may reduce inflammation.

Variations

Two main varieties of safflower oil exist; refined or unrefined. Refined safflower oil means that most of its impurities have been removed, making the oil less perishable. It also means that it has a higher smoke point, meaning it will not begin to break down or smoke until a very high temperature is reached. Unrefined safflower oil has with a lower smoke point. Both prove low in saturated fat.

How To Use

Swap out the bad fats like saturated fat or trans fat for this healthy source of fat. It has a mild taste with a neutral smell. Look for high-heat refined safflower oil for cooking, frying and baking. Use unrefined safflower oil in salad dressings or marinades that don't require heating. Always check the expiration date and store in a cool dark place.

Precautions

Like all fats, safflower oil proves high in calories and the Mayo Clinic recommends using all fats in moderation. If the oil has a strong smell and an unpleasant taste, it may have gone rancid, so users should throw it out.

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