So the latest news from the weight loss trenches is the use of Safflower oil to help lose belly fat.
Special thanks to Allison, my long time friend and client, for providing me with this great info. Allison always keeps me up to date on what’s hot in the weight loss world.
What is safflower oil? The oil comes from safflower seeds, produced by the Carthamus Tinctorinus, which is a spiny, thistle-like plant. It flowers in July and produces 15 to 20 seeds per flower head. The oil comes from these seeds. Safflower Oil is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, in fact having the highest amount of linoleic acid of any seed. The oil is flavorless, colorless, and very sensitive to light and heat. Like olive and other oils used in cooking, it should be stored in a cool, dark place, to prevent it from breaking down and becoming rancid.
It is believed that it originated in Afghanistan, the Nile Valley or Ethiopia. From these places, it spread throughout the Mediterranean region and was carried to the New World by the Spaniards. It was also brought to China. Today, it is commercially grown in California and Southern Australia.
Safflower oil is rich in linoleic acid or Omega-6. It is an essential fatty acid (cannot be synthesized by the human body) and must therefore be supplied by the diet. Safflower oil contains the highest amount of linoleic acid of any known seed. Because it is easily oxidized, it needs an antioxidant such as vitamin E to prolong its shelf life. It is particularly suitable for products that normally require refrigeration such as salad oils and margarines.
Nutritional Content of Safflower Oil Per Teaspoon
- Calories: 80
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Linoleic Acid: 7 grams or Omega-6 : 7 grams (76%)
- Monounsaturated Fatty Acid: 1 gram (14%)
- Saturated Fatty Acid: 1 gram (10%)
Based on the source, safflower oil is available in different types. For example, some contain high percentage of oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid), whereas others have linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acid) in high amounts. The nutritional content of safflower oil includes fats, omega 6 fatty acids, vitamin E and phytosterols. Safflower oil benefits includes helping in shedding extra pounds, lowering blood cholesterol levels and reducing blood sugar levels. Regular use of safflower oil also ensures healthy skin and hair.
A study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and widely reported by the media in the summer of 2009, claims that post-menopausal women with Type-2 diabetes who added two teaspoons of Safflower Oil to their diet, lost 2 to 4 pounds of belly fat and increased their muscle mass by as much as 3 pounds. The women didn't change their diets or exercise habits. The safflower oil was also shown to lower their blood sugar by as much as 19 points. While this study included only women, previous studies have shown that men can benefit from the CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) found in safflower oil as well. How safflower oil reduces belly fat is unclear, but Ohio State University professor, Dr. Martha Belury, who conducted the study, said it may be related to changes in the functioning of tissue where the fat is stored.
The women were instructed not to change their diets, or exercise patterns over the course of the study. Lead researcher Belury stated "I never would have imagined such a finding. This study is the first to show that such a modest amount of linoleic-acid rich oil may have a profound effect on body composition in women." The women took a daily dose of 1-2/3 teaspoons of safflower oil."
Postmenopausal women tend to lose muscle while gaining fat (adipose tissue) around their abdomens. This investigation shows dietary oil can complement lifestyle and medication in helping older diabetic women.
Results: Although safflower oil did not lower total body fat, it did reduce abdominal (belly) fat by 2.3 pounds and 4.2 pounds, or an average of 6.3%. It also increased lean muscle mass by an average of 1.4 pounds and 3 pounds. Moreover, it reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 11 and 19 points.
Bottom Line is that Safflower Oil is a good fat and can provide many health benefits. It’s worth giving it a try. Always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Belury M et al. " Comparison of Dietary CLA with Safflower Oil on Body Composition in Obese Postmenopausal Women with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus" American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 17, 2009 (Epublished ahead of print)