Will Using Safflower Oil Help You Lose Weight?

The suetsumuhana (safflower)
Image via Wikipedia

There it was in the grocery aisle.  Dr. Oz’s magic weight loss solution.  Pounds off in a week.  I reached, I read, I bought safflower oil.  Just two teaspoons a day will help shed pounds.  So simple.

The trouble is that on Dr. Oz’s website, he doesn’t promote safflower oil for weight loss.  In fact, his sponsored writer says it is way too soon to start using safflower oil.

In looking at safflower oil, the human studies seem to be using it as a placebo when doing trials on CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  CLA has come out as worse than placebo, which gets translated as safflower oil being good for you.  But more recently, the CLA people have shown that CLA isn’t as bad as other studies made it appear. It doesn’t actually hurt overweight men in terms of heart attack risks.

What is bizarre is that safflower oil got any press at all, because the supposed star of that CLA/safflower study was supposed to be CLA.  (Abstract below).  CLA dropped body weight, not safflower oil.  Safflower was just the placebo control.

So what are we to assume from this study?  That eating good fats are good for you.  Are they magic weight loss?  If used to replace processed snack cakes, absolutely.  If added to a vegan, raw food diet?  Not so much.


For some reason, safflower fever has swept the globe.  I have elaborated further with thoughts and research:

Will Safflower oil help diabetic mothers and underweight babies?  (Using the rat research and thinking about what it might do to people).

Will Safflower oil help with Diabetes and Heart disease?

And finally, how much Safflower oil do we really absorb (and how much of that is Vitamin E)?

The weight-loss research is below:

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;90(3):468-76. Epub  2009 Jun 17.

Comparison of dietary conjugated linoleic acid with safflower oil on body composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus.


Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210, USA.



Weight loss may improve glucose control in persons with type 2 diabetes. The effects of fat quality, as opposed to quantity, on weight loss are not well understood.


We compared the effects of 2 dietary oils, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and safflower oil (SAF), on body weight and composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.


This was a 36-wk randomized, double-masked, crossover study. Fifty-five obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes received SAF or CLA (8 g oil/d) during two 16-wk diet periods separated by a 4-wk washout period. Subjects met monthly with the study coordinator to receive new supplements and for assessment of energy balance, biochemical endpoints, or anthropometric variables.


Thirty-five women completed the 36-wk intervention. Supplementation with CLA reduced body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.0022) and total adipose mass (P = 0.0187) without altering lean mass. The effect of CLA in lowering BMI was detected during the last 8 wk of each 16-wk diet period. In contrast, SAF had no effect on BMI or total adipose mass but reduced trunk adipose mass (P = 0.0422) and increased lean mass (P = 0.0432). SAF also significantly lowered fasting glucose (P = 0.0343) and increased adiponectin (P = 0.0051). No differences were observed in dietary energy intake, total fat intake, and fat quality in either diet period for either intervention.


Supplementation with CLA and SAF exerted different effects on BMI, total and trunk adipose mass, and lean tissue mass in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Supplementation with these dietary oils may be beneficial for weight loss, glycemic control, or both.

PMID: 19535429

11 Replies to “Will Using Safflower Oil Help You Lose Weight?”

  1. You might be interested in more research materials on this subject. I found some at http://www.cutdownonbellyfat.com/research/ – hopefully this will answer more of the questions you seem to have as to whether safflower oil will work. From what I heard on Dr. Oz’s program is that it does work along with other foods high in Omega-6.

  2. Thanks! I see that the site is a promotion of safflower oil. I have no issues with people switching to safflower oil, but I didn’t see anything at the site that would convince me it’s going to help people lose much weight. That was the hook, and I haven’t seen any evidence that safflower will drop pounds. Healthier sure, and that’s not a bad thing. I just don’t want people guzzling safflower and thinking it’s going to drop the fat.

  3. Well at least it is not oil from the sassafras plants, it has a similar name. I have to confess that I had to look it up. The sassafras plants (Sassafras albidum) have safrole in the oil which is a carcinogenic phenyl allyl compound (3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propene).

    Safflower oil seems to be a mixture of glycerol esters of unsaturated fatty acids, I would like to know how much tocopherol (vitamin E) this oil has. I think that the tocopherol content is important, as tocopherol is nature’s version of BHT which stops the oil turning into a polymer.

    Also how much of a person’s tocopherol intake is in the oil which they use for making their food ?

  4. Hi Mark, Thanks for the comment.
    I think the answer is “it depends.” I did a quick search and found that healthy people absorb a fair amount from supplements, while diabetic patient absorb none. By default, any vitamin E in their bodies would come from digested oils. The study I found on Safflower oil listed the alpha-tocopherol level at 44g/100g, which cannot be correct. I think they meant 44mg/100g. I also found several studies on the effects of saline levels in the soil affecting overall concentrations of various nutrients, so we’d be seeing variations. Most of it is posted: https://alternativendhealth.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/how-much-safflower-oil-can-you-absorb-and-how-much-is-vitamin-e/

  5. be careful people not to just buy the safflower oil on the shelves at your local market, there are two types of safflower oil and the one at your market is not the one Dr. Oz was talking about. the most common one out there is just for cooking and is known as “high oleic” but the one that helps you lose weight is the “high linoleic” which is only really found at health food shops and costs around $25. a bottle. i know everyone is making the mistake of buying the wrong oil because the shelves are empty of the regular cooking one at my local market. so people are taking spoonfuls of cooking oil for nothing!

  6. Dr. Oz is dangerously wrong. See http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707

    Good study with bottom line “In this cohort, substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.”

    What’s most impressive is that the study participants actually had a higher risk of death with safflower oil than high intake of animal (saturated) fats!

    Dr. Oz couldn’t be more wrong about its safety!

  7. Thanks for the research! Nice to see a decent human study on this subject.

    To be fair, it isn’t just Dr. Oz that is saying to make the switch from saturated fat to safflower oil. Later in the abstract they note: “Advice to substitute polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats is a key component of worldwide dietary guidelines.” Dr. Oz’s contribution is the expected fat loss. But the whole world needs to take a step back and think about what we “know” about nutrition.

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