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Safflower (Carthamus Tinctorius)

A thistle-like plant of the Compositae family, with large orange-red flower heads, the seeds/grain producing a pale delicately-flavoured oil; colouring is obtained from the powdered dried flowers.

Safflowers are cultivated in the U.S.A. and Europe. It has the highest levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in any oil - 79 per cent, which contain the essential linoleic and linolenic acids, known to lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

However, this is only relevant when the oil is fresh; as the higher the concentrate of unsaturates in any oil, the more quickly it oxidises and becomes rancid. Once rancid, the unsaturated fatty acids are converted to substances irritating to the body.

The residue of the seeds, after the oil has been extracted is used as cattle feed.

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