Safflower oil, like other oils, is a fat. It is rich in vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids. Today, safflower oil is being marketed as a weight loss aid. But what is safflower oil, and is it effective for weight loss?
Safflower itself is a thistle-like plant, and two types of it can produce two kinds of oil. One kind can produce oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid; while the other produces linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Most of the safflower oil being sold on the edible oil market is made up of oleic acid, while the other type is used for painting. However, it is also linoleic acid which has been shown in early studies to help regulate the levels of glucose in the blood, as well as aid in the breakdown of fatty acids.
This makes the high-linoleic acid type of safflower oil attractive to fitness and
health enthusiasts. The results of early studies on the oil were much publicized, leading to more sales of the product worldwide. Health enthusiasts advocate taking two tablespoons of the oil daily.
There are many producers, processors, and packages of safflower oil, and there are many brands available on the market.
Press releases of safflower oil often quote Dr. Oz as saying that it is effective for weight loss. Dr. Oz, however, made no such claim, and cautions against using it because of the lack of studies. The current studies that are much publicized, moreover, did not directly study safflower oil: they studied the effects conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), with safflower oil as the placebo. Studies showed that CLA was worse on the body compared to the effects of safflower oil, which might have been misinterpreted as an advocacy for the benefits of safflower oil.
Further studies on CLA, moreover, have shown that is effective in dropping body weight without putting users at risk for heart disease. Safflower oil has not yet been extensively studied, and not enough to make any reliable health claims.
There are still no documented side effects of safflower oil, but there are side effects of the safflower plant that might also necessitate staying away from safflower oil. For instance, safflower can induce menstruation and cause the uterus to contract, which can result in a miscarriage. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are cautioned to avoid using it.
Safflower can also slow blood clotting, which can be dangerous for those who suffer from bleeding disorders or hemorrhagic diseases, or those who will need to undergo surgery. Safflower can also cause allergies to those who are allergic to ragweeds, which include chrysanthemums, daisies, and marigolds. Safflower can also cause stomach pains.
Safflower oil is often used to prevent heart disease and ease the pain of menstruation. Early studies show that it can lower bad cholesterol, but it has no effect on the levels of triglycerides in the blood. There is no evidence yet that it can cure blood circulation disorders or menstrual disorders.
Reviews for safflower oil are mixed: some claim that it helped in weight loss when combined with exercise, but others also claim that it did not result in any weight loss. There are also no reviews supporting the claim that safflower oil can remove belly fat.