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Food Facts: Safflower Oil

Everyday Food, January 2008

Achieving Clarity
Safflower oil is made from the seeds of the safflower plant, which is related to the sunflower. Its a mild-tasting vegetable oil with a neutral aroma -- perfect when you don't want a pronounced flavor from the oil in a recipe (think stir-fries, curries, and baked goods). Refined high-heat safflower oil, a common variety, has a high smoke point (meaning it will not smoke and break down until it reaches a high temperature), making it ideal for sauteing and deep-frying.

Compare and Contrast
Along with olive and canola oils, refined safflower oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which don't raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and may even lower it. In addition, these fats can increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Among vegetable oils, safflower and canola varieties contain the lowest levels of saturated fat -- we prefer safflower for its unassertive taste.

Pantry Primer
Look for refined high-heat safflower oil, and check the expiration date. As with most oils, stow safflower oil in the pantry (not by the stove) to protect it from heat and sunlight. It keeps for several months.

Take a look at what we keep in our winter pantry, and find inspiration for cozy meals.