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Better Nutrition (1989-90)

Discover the facts about safflower oil

Discover the facts about safflower oil

Susan Hodges

Discover the Facts About Safflower Oil

Now that obesity affects approximately 60 percent of Americans, an oil like safflower, which has been linked to good health and even substantial weight loss, cries out for attention.

An oil linked to weight loss and good health? Certainly.

Polyunsaturated oils, in their expeller-pressed, natural state, are desirable for their ability to provide the raw material for the formation of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are vital hormone-like compounds that strengthen cell membranes and regulate every function in the body at the molecular level.

But polyunsaturated oils are fragile. When exposed to heat, light or oxygen, they can quickly turn rancid and lose their ability to function. And regular safflower oil, with a fatty acid profile of 79 percent polyunsaturates, 13 percent monounsaturates and just 8 percent saturated fats, is the most highly polyunsaturated vegetable oil available. That’s why using safflower oil cold is essential for the best of health.

Safflower’s ability to help form prostaglandins is just one of its virtues. Cis-linoleic acid, the omega-6 fatty acid in safflower oil responsible for prostaglandin production, is also a catalyst for burning brown fat.

Brown fat is the inner body fat that surrounds vital organs and acts as a fat-burning factory, using calories for heat rather than storing them as white fat. During normal metabolism, cis-linoleic acid converts to GLA (gamma linolenic acid). GLA then stimulates the body’s brown fat into a flurry of calorie-burning activity.

When brown fat is active on a regular basis, the body is best able to maintain its ideal weight. But of course, brown fat does not work at the same pace in everyone.

Fat researchers like Dr. George Bray at the University of California at Los Angeles theorize that brown fat becomes less active with age, making weight control more difficult.

Bray also believes brown fat becomes prematurely sluggish in some people, while staying active in others well into their old age. Heredity may be to blame in this case, but safflower oil with its high levels of omega-6 can help correct the problem.

Nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., tells the story of how safflower oil was instrumental in helping several of her clients lose weight.

“For years these women had followed nutritionally chic high carbohydrate diets,” wrote Gittleman in Beyond Pritikin. “They ate lots of vegetables, whole-grain cereals and potatoes without butter.” But while this routine worked in the beginning, the women reached a plateau in their weight loss and could not lose the last five pounds that would put them at their ideal body weight. They also complained of dry skin, hair and nails.

Gittleman added two teaspoons of unprocessed safflower oil to their daily diets in the form of salad dressings, and in three weeks both women noticed results. Not only had their hair, skin and nails improved, but they had lost the stubborn five pounds.

Safflower oil has multiple abilities, when used correctly. Regular expeller-pressed safflower oil is excellent in salad dressings, as a vegetable drizzle, and as a nutritious supplement. If you want to cook with safflower, check with your health food grocer for the new “high-oleic” form of the oil, which maintains the oil’s benefits even when heated.

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