Flaxseed oil has been shown to have a wide variety of health benefits, such as heart disease prevention, reducing inflammation, and decreasing the risk of cancer. Besides these great benefits, there are a lot more, but also some possible side effects and other concerns you should take into account before deciding to add flaxseed oil to your diet.
Flaxseed Oil Health Benefits
Flaxseed oil (also called flax oil or linseed oil), is created from grinding and pressing flax seeds. This oil contains several beneficial active substances, including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Important minerals, including magnesium and calcium.
- Vegetable fiber which helps prevent gastrointestinal issues and constipation.
- Lignans, which are phenolic compounds that may prevent the risk for cancer.
- Beneficial proteins that can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Here are a few of the amazing health benefits associated with flaxseed oil and the research that supports these benefits.
Since flaxseed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, it can decrease inflammation in the body. Animal research shows that flaxseed oil is packed with anti-inflammatory properties which provides significant inflammation-reducing qualities. But, research on people has so far had mixed results.
One review examining multiple human research studies did conclude that flaxseed contained substances that are beneficial for lowering inflammation markers called C-reactive proteins in some of the subjects participating in the studies. The research indicates that the flaxseed oil properties could affect individuals differently – thus, additional studies need to be conducted in order to verify it’s effects on inflammation for the average population.
Decreases the Risk For Cancer
Flaxseed oil contains linoorbitides, which are compounds shown to exhibit antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits. Flaxseed oil is also a great source of food-based lignans, which are believed to reduce the risk for breast cancer.
Additionally, the ALA, or Apha-linolenic acids, found in flaxseed oil might retard the growth-rate of cancer cells and even kill them. Although studies on the benefits of ALA for reducing cancer risk is hopeful, the quantity required for making it a useful treatment is excessive, which in turn creates a risk for substantial side effects and other complications.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Research has shown that flaxseed oil supplementation may increase levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are crucial for maintaining a heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease. The body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, and flaxseed is naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Improves Gastrointestinal Health
Flaxseed oil helps prevent constipation. Research conducted on 50 hemodialysis patients using daily supplementation of flaxseed oil found that symptoms of constipation were relieved. Another study of 40 irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients showed that flaxseeds were beneficial in reducing the inflammation linked with IBS symptoms, such as diarrhea and constipation.
Maintains Healthy Skin
Low levels of ALA are linked to skin conditions and since flaxseed oil contains high amounts of ALA, it promotes good skin health. Studies show that flaxseed oil could help with decreasing inflammation of skin cells and enhance regeneration of the skin.
Helps With Weight Loss
Flaxseed oil could assist with helping the digestive system to remove toxins from the body and improve weight loss. For example, a study in 2012 found that flaxseed oil can help to suppress the appetite, which leads to a reduction of food consumption and weight loss.
Reduces the Symptoms of Menopause
More and more women are turning to natural menopause supplements as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy. There is some research which shows that flaxseed oil could help reduce the symptoms associated with menopause.
A study conducted with 140 women experiencing menopause and taking flaxseed oil supplements showed a reduction of hot flashes and improvement in overall quality of life.
How to Take Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil has a plethora of uses. For instance, it can easily be substituted for other oils in salads or a wide range of recipes. You can also add it to a shake or smoothie.
However, flaxseed oil is not suitable for cooking. When it’s exposed to heat, it can create harmful chemicals. Additionally, it should be stored in a cool place, such as a refrigerator.
Besides using it in food, flaxseed oil can be used directly on the skin or added to a moisturizing cream to improve skin moisture and health. Even more, it can be used in the hair to promote hair growth and a lustrous shine.
Flaxseed oil may also be purchased in capsules as a nutritional supplement. Exact dosage will be dependent upon the product. Your physician will know best whether or not flaxseed oil supplementation is right for you and if it might interact with other medications.
Flaxseed oil is typically safe for most individuals when taken by mouth according to directions. Large amounts can lead to loose stools or diarrhea. It’s also possible to experience allergic reactions to flaxseed oil.
Some studies suggest that ALA might raise the risk for prostate cancer or stimulate tumor growth – but most of these studies’ conclusions are speculative, and other studies have found that flaxseed can actually increase prostate health.
Further studies show that ALA from animal-based foods that have significant amounts of saturated fats may have ties to prostate cancer – but even then, ALA might not be responsible. Rather, other compounds in those foods may actually spur the formation of tumor growth.
If you’re a man who’s concerned about how flaxseed oil may negatively impact prostate health, talk to your doctor before deciding to supplement with flaxseed oil.
There currently little evidence regarding the safety of flaxseed oil when applied on the hair or skin.
The majority of studies concerning the benefits and effectiveness of flaxseed oil have been on animals, and research on humans has been limited. Thus, it’s strongly suggested that those considering taking flaxseed oil (whether as an oil or in supplement form) to speak with your doctor about safety and risks.
Flaxseed oil that has expired or gives off a foul odor could be toxic and should be disposed of.
Who Should Not Use Flaxseed Oil?
- Children and adolescents.
- Pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding.
- Individuals with bleeding disorders.
- Individuals who about to undergo surgery.
- Individuals taking blood-clotting medicine.
Flaxseed oil is loaded with healthy substances (like omega-3 fatty acids among others), and it’s been demonstrated to have a wide variety of properties that are beneficial to health. It’s very versatile in that it can be substituted for other oils and used with a variety of meals, and it can even be applied to the hair and skin.
For a more convenient way to use flaxseed oil, it can also be purchased as a supplement. Always remember to talk to your doctor about any safety concerns before adding flaxseed oil to your diet or supplement regimen.