The safflower ranks among the oldest crops known to the human race. Archaeological evidence shows that safflower dyes were used for Egyptian textiles around 4,000 years ago, and there were safflower garlands in the fabled tomb of Tutankhamun. In prehistoric Greece, the plant is referred to in the Minoan language of Linear B.
Safflower seed oil comes in two types, both rich in fatty acids. The mono-unsaturated (omega-9 oleic acid) type has a higher combustion point and is suited to high temperature cooking, while the polyunsaturated (omega-6 lineolic acid) type is mostly used as a salad oil. It is also common in margarine.
Pure safflower oil can be directly applied to nourish the skin and hair, and is used in some cosmetic products. Traditionally, it is also used in the treatment of menstrual problems, both to regulate periods and to ameliorate menopausal symptoms.
Some studies suggest that the polyunsaturated safflower oil might help to decrease excess body fat, and help to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, benefiting heart health. Safflower oil also supplies a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E, which is rich in antioxidants and is important for scavenging cell-damaging free radicals.