Safflower Seeds For Bone Strength

When we think of safflower, most of us think of oil, but in Korea safflower seeds have long been eaten with the intent to strengthen bones. This use has been supported by research. Through the years, study results have indicated that safflower seed extracts favorably alter blood cholesterol in animals. In a recent study, animals that were made postmenopausal (via surgical removal of the ovaries) and then fed a defatted safflower seed concentrate (SSC) showed a slowing of osteoporosis, nearly matching the effects achieved when treating them with estradiol (the most potent of the natural estrogens and a common treatment for osteoporosis, equivalent to estrogen replacement therapy). The SSC did not promote uterus growth, unlike the undesirable uterus growth seen with estradiol. An extract of the SSC did stimulate bone-building cells (osteoblasts), however, in a way similar to that seen with the isoflavone genistein (prominent in soy and red clover) and estradiol. This extract also contained lignans similar to those found in flaxseed and burdock root, along with flavonoids and serotonin complexes. Given this good news, perhaps safflower seeds will soon be more commonly available, say, in snack packages like sunflower seeds.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies. He is cofounder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.