Safflower oil is extracted from safflower seeds (Carthamus tinctorius). The cold-pressed variety has a low smoke point and should only be used as a salad oil or for steaming or cooking foods briefly. A distinction is generally made between two varieties of safflower oil based on the proportion of oleic acid they contain. The oleic acid is also the reason why the oil is used for medicinal purposes, such as in patients with hypercholesterolaemia, for prophylaxis, and for treatment of atherosclerosis.
From Wikipedia: “Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 in) tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange, or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments.”
“Traditionally, the crop was grown for its seeds, and used for coloring and flavoring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available. For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds.”
“Safflower seed oil is flavorless and colorless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly in cosmetics and as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine. ...
There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Currently the predominant edible oil market is for the former, which is lower in saturated fats than olive oil. The latter is used in painting in the place of linseed oil, particularly with white paints, as it does not have the yellow tint which linseed oil possesses.”
“Oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, notably linoleic acid, are considered to have some health benefits. One human study compared high-linoleic safflower oil with conjugated linoleic acid, showing that body fat decreased and adiponectin levels increased in obese women consuming safflower oil.
The assumed benefits of linoleic acid in the case of heart disease are less obvious: in one study where high-linoleic safflower oil replaced animal fats in the diets of patients with heart disease, the group receiving safflower oil in place of animal fats had a significantly higher risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular diseases. In the same study, a meta-analysis of linoleic acid used in intervention clinical trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit. However, a meta-analysis published in 2014 concluded that linoleic acid in people's diet "is inversely associated with CHD risk in a dose-response manner. These data provide support for current recommendations to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat for primary prevention of CHD."
“Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron".
In coloring textiles, dried safflower flowers are used as a natural dye source for the orange-red pigment Carthamin. Carthamin is also known, in the dye industry, as Carthamus Red or Natural Red 26.”
“In 2013, global production of safflower seeds was 718,161 tonnes, with Kazakhstan accounting for 24% of the total. Other significant producers were India, the United States, Mexico and Argentina.”
“Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth Dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun.”