Flaxseed plant originated in Europe, and its botanical name is Linum usitstissimum. It is commonly called linseed oil. The health benefits and use of linseed oil have been known since the Roman ages, and it was used as a medicine by Hippocrates. The Europeans used flaxseed plant for its fiber, and it was also used as a medicinal herb. So what is the secret or rather the flaxseed oil benefits that make it so popular and nutritious of all oils? Well the secret lies in the substances that make up flaxseed oil.
Information on Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil consists of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It has a rich content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is an essential fat, as the body cannot survive without this fat. This fat can be taken up by the body only in the form of food. These essential fats help counter stresses the body undergoes. It does so by acting as lubricants, cushions, and insulators. They are also important for the structural rigidity of the cell membrane. They act as anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.
The oil helps in lowering the total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels that are harmful for the heart. It helps improve the heart health. It helps reduce the cholesterol, blood pressure, plaque formation, and cardiac arrhythmia, and thus protects you from several coronary heart diseases. Flaxseed oil has been known to protect the heart from angina. It can reduce the risk of a second heart attack. The omega 3 present in the oil is beneficial for people with arthritis, as it reduces the inflammation of joints. Omega 3 has been proven to kill certain cancer cells, that too without any effect on the normal cells, and is therefore very much beneficial for cancer patients.
Flaxseed oil helps maintain hormonal balance. It is also beneficial for fending off the ill effects of some types of bacteria and fungi. Health benefits also include reduction of inflammation due to lupus, gout, and kidney inflammation. The benefits also include reduction of nerve damage. The oil is used for triggering nerve impulses. It also helps in reducing the signs of aging, and in healing sprains and bruises.
Omega-3 found in flaxseed oil is also beneficial for the brain. It helps maintain the emotional health, and helps fight depression to some extent. Other benefits also include nourishing dry skin, reducing acne, psoriasis, sunburn, rosacea, and for eczema treatment. It promotes healthy hair and nails, and prevents nails from breaking and cracking.
Flax seed oil is a great laxative as it helps in bowel movement. It also helps in repairing the intestinal tract damage and reducing the occurrence of gallstones. Many other conditions have been benefited by flaxseed oil like Lyme disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, arrhythmia, multiple sclerosis, preterm labor, ulcers, etc.
Flaxseed oil benefits for women include reduction of menopausal symptoms, menstruation cramps, and endometriosis. It stabilizes the estrogen-progesterone ratio, and helps relieve the hot flashes due to premenopausal symptoms and menopause. Benefits for men include reduction of prostate problems, impotence, and male infertility. It helps prevent the swelling and inflammation of the prostate, and reduces the urgency to urinate. It helps keep the sperms healthy, and improves blood flow to penis, thus reducing impotency.
Flax Seed Oil vs. Fish Oil
Many people often have a debate regarding the health benefits of flaxseed oil and fish oil. As flaxseed oil and fish oil both contain omega 3 fatty acids, it is the fish oil that has an upper hand. Fish oil also contains EPA and DHA omega-3 in natural form, thus saving the body from using energy to break ALA into these usable forms. But many vegetarians prefer flaxseed oil over fish oil for obvious reasons. Also, it is more economical than fish oil.
How Much Flaxseed Oil Should One Take?
One should not over consume anything blindly, just because it has many health benefits. To obtain optimum benefits without any harmful side effects, one should include about less than 30% of total kilojoules (calories) per day of flaxseed oil in their diet.
How To Prevent Flaxseed Oil from Damage?
Flaxseed oil as well as fish oil contain omega-3 fatty acids that get oxidized when exposed to light, especially bluish fluorescent light. Thus, light is more damaging to this oil than heat, and therefore to maintain the flaxseed oil for a longer time, you should store it in refrigerator. If you need to store the oil for longer periods of time, you should keep it in the freezer. You can store an unopened, refrigerated bottle or capsule for about 12 months. Once opened you should use it up within 2 - 10 weeks.
Who Should Avoid Flaxseed Oil?
Anyone can reap health benefits of flaxseed oil. But women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid taking flaxseed oil. Also, there is no information regarding the effects of the oil on children below 12 years of age. Women who are suffering from endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or uterine cancer should take the oil only under medical guidance. Although there are many benefits for cancer patients, medical advice for the use of oil is necessary under these conditions.
People who suffer from intestinal blockages and esophageal blockages should also avoid flaxseed oil, as it can cause further blockages. If you suffer from nausea, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain, avoid this oil. It is seen that flaxseed oil tends to increase the blood clotting time, and when taken along with anti-platelets like Plavix and Ticlid or anticoagulants like aspirin, heparin, warfarin, etc., it leads to uncontrolled bleeding. Remember, once you take flaxseed or flaxseed oil, do not take any other drug for at least 2 hours.
These were just a few health benefits of flaxseed oil. Many people vouch for the health benefits that have helped them improve their health. If you want a healthy skin, hair, nails, heart, and even digestive tract, this oil is the answer. It is seen that the American diet ratio of omega-3 essential fatty acids against omega 6 fatty acids is around 1:20 to 1:60. This shows American diet has high levels of omega-6, but less omega-3.
Thus, it is necessary to include this oil in their daily diet to gain the omega-3 fatty acid benefits. Try some flaxseed recipes, and mix the oil to juices, yogurt, and other foods to gain more flaxseed oil benefits. But remember, maintain a healthy balance of the oil intake to gain more of health benefits, and prevent side effects of flaxseed oil.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.