Flaxseed oil goes by many names – linseed oil, golden flax oil, linseed flax oil – as befitting its many uses. It's derived from the seeds of the flax plant, which abounds in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, Northern Europe and Russia, which is also its biggest producer. The pale blue flower of the flax plant is the emblem of Northern Ireland but flax is scarce in that place now as it is in the U.S.
Interest in flax has recently been rekindled, not so much for the linen that it is spun into to make clothing material, but for its healthy contents. Roughly 55 percent of flaxseed oil is alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is good for the heart. Aside from ALA, flaxseed oil also contains a high amount of linoleic acid and oleic acid, both of which have their own life-enhancing properties. But flaxseed oil does not contain the lignans found in the seed. Lignans are a class of plant estrogens that have antioxidant properties and some brands of flaxseed oil supplements have added them to their products.
The health claims attributed to flaxseed oil are currently being examined, and the preliminary results are promising. This isn't surprising - the Babylonians in 3000 BC knew long ago what modern science is only just beginning to discover.
Flaxseed Oil and Alpha Linolenic Acid
Flaxseed oil is one of the richest sources of alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid
that can be found in deep-sea fish and plants. A 2002 study conducted by scientists from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that increased intake of ALA reduced the risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemia. The other benefits of ALA are:
Flaxseed Oil and Lignans
Lignans are phytoestrogens that also act as antioxidants. They are present in flax plant seeds and are added into flaxseed oil in supplements for their health values. Flaxseeds have the highest content of lignans, 100 times more than wheat bran and 75 times more than other grains. This component does the following:
Prevents plaque build-up in the arteries by up to 75 percent, reducing atherosclerosis that may lead to strokes
Decreases the risk for breast cancer in women and colon cancer in men and women
Protect cells from damage caused by free radicals
Has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects obtained from the antioxidants that also boost the body’s immune system
Helps prevent hot flushes in peri-menopause and menopause; lessens premenstrual symptoms
Other Uses of Flaxseed Oil
The soluble fiber in flaxseed acts as a laxative that helps prevent constipation
The symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD) are lessened. There is improved attention, more self-control and decreased restlessness in children with ADHD
The fiber in flaxseed prolongs the feeling of satiety and puts off hunger pangs, aiding in weight loss
Flaxseed oil reduces eye irritation and dryness
Its topical use alleviates the pain of burns, and symptoms of eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions
Safety and Precaution
There have been rare adverse allergic side effects of flaxseed and flaxseed oil in hypersensitive people. Otherwise, flaxseed oil is well tolerated, but like any food supplement, there are some safety measures to take:
When taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil, always follow it up with plenty of water to avoid constipation
Exceeding the recommended dosage of flaxseed oil can cause diarrhea
Flaxseed oil may interfere with the absorption of medications you are taking. Inform your doctor if you are on medication and plan to take flaxseed oil regularly. It can affect the action and efficacy of anticoagulants and antihypertensives
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil have not been proven to be safe when taken during pregnancy. So it is best to avoid it until after childbirth
Flaxseed Oil Dosage
The dosage of flaxseed oil depends on several factors: age, health condition and others. Read the labels when you buy flaxseed to determine proper use.
Flaxseed oil is sold as a supplement in gel and capsule forms. They can be purchased from online shops or physical stores. Choose those that are packed in an amber bottle or in a plastic bottle as flaxseed oil is sensitive to light and oxidizes easily. Get one now. The benefits you get from flaxseed oil are so plentiful, you'll be glad to made it a part of your daily diet.
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