Safflower characteristics and uses
Updated: May 23, 2021
Safflower is a type of thistle native to India. Currently this species has spread throughout the world. Its seed is very valuable for the health of humans and birds. Safflower seeds are also known as Mexican saffron, saffron or bastard saffron, among others.
Farmers choose this species because they are easy to grow, since they adapt to all types of soil. It needs little water and adapts to acid and even snowy soils. Each plant measures from half a meter to a meter and a half and grows from one to five flowers. Each flower contains 15 to 30 seeds that are protected from shelling caused by the wind and birds.
Characteristics of the safflower seed
Physically, safflower seeds are characterized by having an oval shape, they are white in color and a lustrous appearance. Regarding their nutritional content, these seeds have 7.2% water, 14.3% protein, 16.5% carbohydrates, 31.2% fiber and 28% fat.
For the bird food market, the seeds should be uniformly white in color, free of bristles at their ends, and have a high test weight (minimum of 47.5 kg / hl). Brown striped seed of some varieties are not acceptable to the bird food trade. Most of the safflower for the bird food market is produced in the United States of America.
Where the safflower is grown?
Safflower is grown in several countries around the world, the largest production is in Mexico, India and the US. Then there is Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Argentina, China and Australia. It was originally grown for the flowers, but now the seeds are put to better use.
The extension of the cultivation is due to the ease of its cultivation. Since it adapts to soils that are not very fertile, it is resistant to different types of climates and does not need much water. So it grows well in dry soils.
Uses of the safflower
Yellow, red and orange pigments are obtained from safflower flowers that are used to color clothes and food, as a substitute for saffron. It was in high demand before the invention of aniline, which is much cheaper. It is such an ancient plant that it was used by the Egyptians in the time of Tutankhamun.
The flowers are also used in medicine. Instead, safflower seeds are used to make edible flour and oil, with properties similar to sunflower. Safflower flour contains approximately 20% protein and a large proportion of fiber.
As a by-product of the oil, a paste very rich in protein and fiber is obtained, used to feed livestock.
It is also used as a replacement for sunflower seeds for food for birds and some mammals. It is a much loved option because squirrels do not like it. Safflower seeds are nutritionally valued, which is why they are used to feed goldfinches, canaries or luganos.
Safflower oil uses
Industrially, safflower oil is used as a substitute for flaxseed oil. Mainly to give a yellow tint to white materials.
From an edible point of view, two main types of oil are obtained from safflower seeds. One of them is rich in monounsaturated fatty acid and another rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The oil is extracted from a first unrefined pressure, so that its properties remain intact. Its nutritional value is greater than sunflower oil. So far it is the oil with the highest amount of essential fatty acids.
It is generally used to flavor salads and produce healthier margarines. Due to its richness of vitamins, it is used as a nutritional supplement. Since it contains omega 6 and vitamin E.
Its flavor is quite strong, for that reason it is about mixing with other types of oil. It is also very delicate. It should be stored in dry and dark places.
Benefits of consuming safflower
Safflower flowers have many health benefits for people.
The oil extracted from safflower has very valuable properties for the health of humans, birds and mammals.
According to studies carried out, the consumption of safflower linoleic oil helps to reduce the level of glucose and accelerate the metabolism of fatty acids. As a consequence, it helps reduce abdominal fat.
Among other properties, is that of being a laxative and antifungal. Which are used in situations of hyperlipidemias, thromboembolism, constipation, intestinal parasitosis, atherosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia.
Safflower oil is also used topically as an analgesic and to alleviate some skin conditions such as dermatomycosis, due to its antifungal action.
Where to buy safflower seeds?
Springhaus is an exporter of high quality seeds used for human and pets consumption. The minimum quality of these grains is grade 1, and the minimum purity is 99%. Learn about the different presentations available.
Know the specification sheet of these seeds and others that are part of the mix of bird food seeds.