Safflower Seeds - Natural Benefits and Curative Properties
Botanical Name :: Carthamus tinctorius
Indian Name :: Kusum, Kusumbha, Karadai
Description of Safflower Seeds
The safflower is an important oil-seed crop. It is a highlybranched, glabrous, annual plant, 0.5 to 1.5 m. tall. It has long and stout taper root and spirally arranged, dark green and glossy leaves. Florets are tubular and usually orange-yellow in color. Safflower seeds are bitter in taste and look more or less like the seeds of orange.
Origin and Distribution of Safflower Seeds
Safflower is believed to have originated in an area bounded by the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian gulf. It has been identified,as growing in Egypt 4,000 years ago. Safflower has been cultivated in Egypt, the Middle East and India initially for the orange dye obtained from the florets. It is still used as dye in India. It spread throughout the Mediterranean region and eastwards to China and Japan. Safflower was taken early by the Spaniards to Mexico. It was introduced experimentally as an oil crop in the United States in 1925, where it has been grown on a commercial scale since 1950, particularly in California.
In Sanskrit literature of ancient India, safflower has been described as kusumbha, from which the most common modern name of kusum is derived. Kusumbha oil was regarded as purgative and identical properties were assigned to it in Egypt, Africa and India. It is now cultivated for oil in parts of North Africa, India, China, the United States and Australia.
Food Value of Safflower Seeds
The oil content of the seeds varies from 20 to 38 per cent. The thinner the hull the greater will be the oil content. The drying oil has a high linoleic acid content, about 75 per cent, and a very low linolenic acid content. The crude protein content of the expressed meal or cake varies from 20 to 55 per cent, depending on the amount of hull removed during processing.
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Safflower Seeds
Safflower oil is one of the most polyunsaturated. The medicinal value of linoleic acid came into prominence in the later 1960s following the publication of the findings of researchers in a series of medical and scientific journals. These findings proved that this fatty acid was highly beneficial in lowering serum cholesterol levels in laboratory animals and humans. From virtual obscurity safflower oil became a bestseller within a few years. This is no wonder, with its very high linoleic acid content.
It has also been discovered that linoleic acid promotes and improves availability of calcium to the body's cells, thereby virtually acting as a vitamin. Some scientists refer to it as vitamin F
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