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Safflower Oil

Safflower Oil is a cooking oil that is found in two main forms; high (up to 75%) linoleic (omega-6 fatty acid) and high (up to 75%) oleic, the main fatty acid in Olive Oil, with about 7% saturated fat content. It is a source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid.

Our evidence-based analysis on safflower oil features 8 unique references to scientific papers.

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Also Known As

Carthamus tinctorius

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects safflower oil has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in C-RP has been noted with safflower oil consumption
grade-d Minor - See study
A slight increase in HDL-C has been noted with safflower oil
grade-d Minor - See study
A slight decrease in HbA1c has been noted with safflower despite no alterations in any other diabetic biomarker
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in lean mass relative to control (CLA) has been noted in obese menopausal women
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on blood glucose in diabetics
grade-d - - See study
No significant reduction in total fat mass, although in obese diabetic women a slight reduction in abdominal fat mass may exist.
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on fasting insulin levels in diabetics
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on insulin sensitivity in diabetics
grade-d - - See study
No significant alterations in LDL-C concentrations
grade-d - - See study
No significant alterations in triglyceride concentrations
grade-d - - See study
No significant changes in total body weight appear to be visible following ingestion of safflower oil in the diet

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Scientific Research on Safflower Oil

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High Oleic Safflower Oil contains:

  • Oleic acid as primary monounsaturated, at around 75%

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) at around 13%

  • Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) at around 8%

  • Serotonin derivatives[1]

  • Vitamin E at 34.1mg per 100mL

  • Vitamin K at 7.1mcg per 100mL

High Linoleic Safflower Oil contains similar levels of micronutrients, with the percentage of fatty acids coming from monounsaturated (primarily oleic) and polyunsaturated (primarily omega-6) reversed; there is an insignificant level of polyunsaturated fatty acids as omega-3.[2][3]

A study without dietary controls conducted in post-menopausal and diabetic women comparing the effects of Safflower Oil (8g daily) against Conjugated Linoleic Acid at 8g found that safflower oil was associated with a higher blood level of CLA isomers at 4 weeks of treatment and was able to reduce some signs of diabetes minimally at 12 weeks, when compared to CLA.[4] Both treatments showed minor shifts towards a better body composition, with 1kg of lean mass replacing 1kg of lost body fat (rough values) after 12 weeks of supplementation.[4][5]

Anti-inflammatory properties have also been attributed to Safflower Oil,[6] but at least one commentor[7] has suggested this may just be due to the Vitamin E content of Safflower Oil, as the mechanisms observed (downregulation of ICAM-1, a cellular adhesion molecule) is shared with Vitamin E.

Safflower oil might exert protective effects on the body, particularly in obese diabetics; however, these effects seem to take a long time to occur, and may not occur with isolated Conjugated Linoleic Acid supplementation

The same research group also assessed changes in weight,[5] and found that, in regards to total fat mass, that Conjugated Linoleic Acid was effective over 16 weeks (−1076 ± 849g of fat) whereas Safflower Oil led to a non-significant increase (80 ± 667g of fat) which resulted in differences in end weight; CLA significantly reducing overall weight by 1.25 ± 0.71kg and Safflower Oil insignificantly reducing weight by 0.11 ± 0.55kg. When only assessing only trunk adiposity by DEXA, it was found that Conjugated Linoleic acid caused a significant increase (1075 ± 1184g) whereas Safflower Oil caused a selective decrease (−1203 ± 852g) as well as CLA reducing overall lean mass (−412 ± 756g) and Safflower Oil increasing lean mass (1402 ± 594g).[5]

Many other studies conducted on Conjugated Linoleic Acid use Safflower Oil as a control, and frequently note no significant effects on measured parameters such as weight of fat mass in the range of 3-6g daily, in time spans ranging from 4 weeks to 6 months.[8]

The effects seem to be present, with a slightly beneficial shift of fat mass away from the trunk despite not actually burning it. These may be secondary to changes in glycemic control, and more studies should be done before Safflower Oil is considered a fat burner