Flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil, is extracted from the dried, ripe seeds of the flaxseed plant. It’s usually clear or slightly yellowish in color.
The scientific name of flaxseed or linseed plant is Linum usitatissimum, which is a member of the genus Linum and the plant family, Linaceae. Flaxseed oil is widely used as a supplement, mainly due to the fact that it contains essential fatty acids known as, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The ratio between fatty acids, like Omega-3 and Omega-6, should be 1:2 in a healthy, balanced diet. However, the Standard American Diet often contains too much omega-6 fatty acids, in comparison to omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to balance the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
As mentioned above, flaxseed oil is very high in essential fatty acids. It contains omega-3 essential fatty acid, known as alpha linoleic acid. Alpha linoleic acid is the precursor to two other omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are the fatty acids that can be found in fish oil supplements. Most of the health benefits of fish oil are attributed to the presence of these two fatty acids.
Both EPA and DHA are known for their immense benefits for the heart and the cardiovascular system. Apart from the cardiovascular system, the immune system, circulatory system, the joints and cartilage of the body and even the nervous system can benefit from flaxseed oil. The most important and noteworthy flaxseed oil health benefits are described below.
- Lowers Cholesterol
Rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 can help lower the level of cholesterol, especially the bad LDL cholesterol in your blood. The level of triglycerides may also be lowered by flaxseed oil.
- Boost Cardiovascular System –
By lowering the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, flaxseed oil can help your cardiovascular system, and overall health of your heart.
- Prevent Atherosclerosis
May help prevent the development of atherosclerosis, which is one of the most important benefits of flaxseed oil. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the accumulation of fatty material along the walls of arteries, which may eventually harden and increase the risk of developing heart and cardiovascular diseases.
- Regulates Blood Pressure
Sufficient intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids, from fish oil supplements or flaxseed oil, may prove helpful in regulating your blood pressure. If you have hypertension or angine, adding flax to your diet may provide many health benefits.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and may help control inflammatory conditions such as, lupus, gout and arthritis.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
May be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease. This oil can help to reduce the inflammation of the intestine and is a great food to add to a colon cleansing diet.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
Flaxseed oil may also help alleviate symptoms associated with Sjogren’s syndrome, including dry eyes and cracked lips.
- Improves Skin Conditions
Effective in alleviating skin conditions like, eczema, psoriasis, acne and rosacea. All of these are significant flaxseed oil benefits for skin. In addition to these, this oil can promote the growth of healthy hair and nail as well.
- Health Benefits for Women
Flaxseed oil is especially important for women. They may experience more health including, improvement in uterine functions, regular menstrual cycle, alleviation or reduction of menopausal symptoms and reduction of the risks of breast cancer.
Side Effects of Flaxseed oil
The side effects of flaxseed oil are not very serious. These side effects include, diarrhea and bloating, which can be experienced if flax oil is taken excessively. Some people may be allergic to flax, and therefore, may experience reactions. If you suffer from bleeding disorders, or take a blood thinner, you should consultyour doctor before taking flaxseed oil, because it may raise the risk of bleeding.
Preliminary research on flaxseed oil has expressed a concern that using it excessively, on a long-term basis, it may raise your risk of devloping prostrate cancer. However, this side effect is not common. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before taking flax oil, because the risks/benefits are not completely known yet.