Although we all know we shouldn’t be consuming packaged and processed food, it can be difficult to turn down things like sweet potato chips and organic condiments. Before settling on a specific brand, you always have to check the ingredients label, and an ingredient that crops up in many seemingly harmless packaged goods is safflower oil. What is it? And is it Paleo?
What is Safflower Oil?
Safflower is a thistle-like plant cultivated for its oil. It was traditionally used for the color of the seeds and blossoms, which could produce bright reds and yellows, and were commonly used to dye ancient Egyptian textiles. Nowadays it is used primarily for its oil, which is nutritionally similar to sunflower oil.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an oil, including taste, smoking point, and health benefits. When it comes to choosing healthy Paleo-approved oils, we look at a few main things: the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, hydrogenation, and heat stability. For example, coconut oil is the darling of the Paleo world because it is shelf-stable (no hydrogenation!) and stands up to heat pretty well. Sunflower oil is not Paleo because of the high amount of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3’s.
Is Safflower Oil Paleo?
No! Safflower oil is not Paleo! Safflower oil is seemingly the worst of the worst. It flavorless and odorless, and made up of about 75% omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids without any omega-3’s to balance them out. You can find high-oleic safflower oil on many ingredients labels, which is touted as a healthy oil, but is a sure sign that the product was highly processed and very far from Paleo.