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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.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Safflower Oil

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]

1Controlled Trials

1.1Various Health Effects

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