Safflower Oil vs. Heart Disease

This article speaks for itself; Recently published by NCSF

Safflower Oil and Heart Disease

A recent study conducted by a research team at Ohio State University and scheduled for future publication in the journal Clinical Nutrition showed that a daily dose of safflower oil (contains the polyunsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid) for 16 weeks provided improved health measures related to HDL (good cholesterol) levels, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and inflammatory markers among a group of obese post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes. The study was conducted 18 months after the research team discovered that safflower oil reduced abdominal fat and increased muscle tissue in the same group of women after 16 weeks of supplementation. The health measures seemingly improved by the safflower oil supplementation are associated with metabolic syndrome; a group of pathologies that can increase the risk for many cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Individuals with metabolic syndrome commonly have a number of the following conditions: excess visceral fat, borderline or high blood pressure, cholesterol problems that promote atherosclerosis, insulin resistance as well as high serum triglycerides.

During the study, blood samples were taken every four weeks to obtain measurements for the previous health measures. The effects of the safflower oil supplement were compared to the effects of conjugated linoleic acid (found in meat and dairy products) which has been shown in previous studies to contribute to weight loss and enhanced cardiovascular health markers. The safflower oil demonstrated improved metabolic measures in almost all cases during the analysis while the conjugated linoleic acid did not. The average beneficial effects of safflower oil supplementation that became evident after 16 weeks included:

  • An increase in insulin sensitivity of approximately 2.7%
  • A small, but significant 0.64% decrease in a blood protein referred to as HbA1C; a marker of long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood
  • An approximate 17.5% decrease in C-reactive protein; an inflammatory marker associated with an increased risk for a heart attack
  • A reduction in fasting blood sugar levels between 11 and 19 points; albeit still within diabetic levels for the participants examined
  • A 14% increase in HDL cholesterol (evident at 12 weeks)
  • An increase in the hormone adiponectin which regulates levels of blood sugar and fats and has an influence on insulin dynamics

The study findings led the chief researcher to propose that consuming a daily measure of safflower oil (equating to 1 2/3 teaspoons) is a safe, complementary intervention in combination with medications to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and control associated disorders. Martha Belury, the lead author of the study states, “…certain people need a little more of this type of good fat – particularly when they’re obese women who already have diabetes. I believe these findings suggest that people (should) consciously make sure they get a serving of healthy oil in their diets each day.” It is noted that the long-term effects of safflower oil supplementation cannot be determined from this study alone, but it appears that the risk for cardiovascular problems could be significantly reduced in the high-risk group examined (obese, post-menopausal women with diabetes). The women did not change any other eating habits during the study and the supplementation amounted to 9.8% of their daily calories. (Ohio State University Press Release, March 2011)


About SuzieSloth

I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Martial Arts Instructor with a passion for physical fitness and a background in public health. I love learning new things about the fitness world and about innovations in all health fields. I like to share tidbits that I find in magazines or on the internet with friends and clients. Please feel free to email me with questions or comments, or leave comments on any post on my blog. And make sure to stop by my website: View all posts by SuzieSloth

2 responses to “Safflower Oil vs. Heart Disease

  • Victoria

    I found this fascinating so I went to look up the original paper (in Clinical Nutrition), and I gotta say- I think it’s crap! There’s no control group!! They compared CLA to Safflower oil, and what it really looks like is that the CLA supplement was detrimental and the SAF did nothing. I’m not surprised the CLA was bad too, as most commercial supplements are an unnatural ratio of the different CLA isomers (too many trans, not enough cis bonds I think)

    • SuzieSloth

      LAME! Though I have to say, I’m very cautious around CLA and anything that’s written on it. Any of the clinical papers I’ve seen always put it into a very scary context, and naturally anyone trying to make a buck off CLA gives a laundry list of joyous application. There are some sources saying that CLA has it’s uses (mostly in obesity trials and little else) but those really get muddied up with all the other intensely bad write-ups or the excessively good write-ups. I’m not surprised that another paper was created to essentially say “look how bad this is!” while simultaneously hiding a key component of utter failure in their own experiment!
      I don’t have access to good papers (for free anyways) anymore, so I’m always scrounging around for more info on stuff like this; I had found one other Safflower article that had done comparative studies against other oils, but naturally couldn’t find it when I decided to put this article out- typical right? Shoot me an email when you can (or fb message) of the places you get good articles, I’d love to go exploring on those databases.

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