Safflower Oil Substitutes

vegetable oil in bottle
A bottle of corn oil. (Image: MiroNovak/iStock/Getty Images)

Safflower oil’s usefulness as a cooking oil and a skin care product stems from its healthy fat content. Safflower oil is rich in omega-6 fats, also known as linoleic acids. It acts as heart-healthy cooking oil as well as a nourishing, clear carrier oil for sensitive skin. If you can’t obtain safflower oil, or have an allergy to it, other oils exist which can substitute for safflower oil for food or cosmetic use.

Corn Oil

Like safflower oil, corn oil contains omega-6 fats which our bodies need but don’t produce. Corn oil and safflower oil fall into the polyunsaturated family of oils. Polyunsaturated fats are a healthier version of the saturated fats found in palm and coconut oils, fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products. A 2007 study reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that snack chips prepared with corn oil, rather than in trans or saturated fats, helped reduce the risk of heart disease. Use corn oil for baking and for light sautés. Its medium smoking point makes it unsuitable for high-heat stir fries.

Soybean Oil

Safflower, corn and soybean oil are all liquid fats which are polyunsaturated and contain Omega-6 fats. Soybean oil’s flavor is neutral and often makes up the majority of what is sold as “vegetable oil.” Soybean oil also contains omega 3 fats as well as omega 6 fats. Like corn oil, soybean oil is best suited for pan-sautés and baking. As a skin care ingredient, soybean oil shows promise as a natural sunscreen, according to the American Chemical Society.

Sunflower Oil

The non-profit website The World’s Healthiest Foods lists sunflower oil as high in omega-6 fats, making it similar to safflower oil. Sunflower oil comes from the pressed seeds of the sunflower. Its high smoke point makes it suitable for pan-frying and searing foods.

Wheat Germ Oil

Another omega-6 oil, wheat germ oil differs from safflower in that it’s not suitable for cooked dishes. It does, however, lend itself well to dressings and sauces, and lends a nutty, hearty taste to salads, fruits and dips. Natural skin care expert Dina Falconi recommends using small amounts of wheat germ oil in skin care lotions because of its nourishing fat and vitamin E content.

Borage Seed Oil

As a skin care ingredient, borage seed oil possesses similar therapeutic properties to safflower oil. The two oils’ linoleic acid content makes them useful for healing tissue and for general use in lotions for dry, mature skins.

Hazelnut Oil

Hazelnut oil works well as both a food oil and a skin care oil. It is rich in linoleic acids, and balances oily skin without over-drying it. When cooking, use hazelnut oil to provide a nutty taste for pan-fried or blackened dishes; the oil’s high smoke point helps it stand up to high-heat cooking.

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