The Health Benefits of Flaxseed Oil


Flaxseed

There has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of flaxseed oil but many people don’t know exactly what it is and what it specifically does. Flax is a good source of plant omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and other nutrients. It’s nutrient composition differs from that of other major oil seeds such as canola and sunflower. It’s important to get the facts straight to make the best choice when purchasing flaxseed oil.

What is Flax and Flaxseed Oil?

Flaxseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant. According to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, a flax seed is about 40% oil by weight. Of this oil, 55% of it is omega-3 fatty acid.

Flax is unique because, traditionally, the oil hasn’t been used much. The seed, however, has been used whole, cracked, or ground into flour then used in baked products. Flax has attracted nutritionists and those seeking a healthier diet because it has a high fiber content and it is rich in potassium. Flax is often sprinkled on breakfast cereals and salads and is found in some fruit juice drinks.

After the oil is extracted from the flax seed, the “leftovers” are often fed to livestock. An interesting side note is that the use of whole flax seed as food for chickens has increased in recent years because of the omega-3 properties.

Is Flaxseed Oil the Same as Linseed Oil?

There has been some confusion between these. Flax oil is also called linseed oil which is sold in hardware stores as varnish. Flaxseed and linseed are often used interchangeably but there is an important difference. North Americans use flaxseed to describe flax when used for human consumption and linseed to describe when it has been processed for industrial purposes.

Importance of Omega-3

The “3″ in Omega-3 refers to the major types of fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by our body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once eaten, the human body converts ALA to EPA and DHA which are more readily used by the body. Omega-3 is an important component of almost all cell membranes; therefore, sufficient amounts of these fatty acids are necessary and need to be balanced to maintain good health.

A Harvard study titled, “The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary Lifestyle and Metabolic Risk Factors” revealed that an omega-3 deficiency causes an alarming 72,000-96,000 deaths annually.

Flaxseed Oil Benefits

According to the Flax Council of Canada, there are numerous benefits of which omega-3 is at the top of the list. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) constitutes 57% of the total fatty acids in flax, making flax the richest source of ALA in the North American diet. Every tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 8 grams of ALA, and this is a polyunsaturated fatty acid.

Flaxseed oil has been found to be beneficial for those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease and Colitis. Several studies have found that this oil seems to be able to calm the inner lining of the inflamed intestines. Another benefit exists as there is a high content of mucilage in flax and this is an effective natural laxative.

Flaxseed oil is beneficial in helping to reduce high cholesterol. It’s important to keep in mind however, that this alone cannot be totally effective in reducing cholesterol levels, an overhaul of overall diet must work in conjunction with flaxseed oil.

The risk of heart disease is lower in individuals who take flaxseed oil. Evidence indicates that those who eat a lot of ALA are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and it reduces high blood pressure.

Some people are afflicted with Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a dryness of the eyes. Flaxseed oil helps to improve this condition.

Flaxseed oil also helps to:

  • Reduce the risk of cancer.
  • Aid in the growth of healthy hair and nails.
  • Promote healthy skin.
  • Reduce menopause symptoms.
  • Play a role in burning body fat.

Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements

Taking Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is available in liquid and soft gel capsules. This oil requires special packaging because it is easily destroyed by heat, light and oxygen. Some forms of flaxseed oil may require refrigeration.

There is a potential for side effects and interactions with medications or other dietary supplements. Flaxseed may slow down the rate your body absorbs oral medications or other nutrients if taken at the same time. It is highly advisable to seek the advice of a trained natural health practitioner before taking this supplement.

It’s also important to know the source of the flaxseed oil because some plants grown today are not what they appear to be. There are lot of genetically engineered plants that make their way into our homes and GE foods are not good for human consumption.

The Verdict Is In

Natural flaxseed oil is packed with health benefits that you can’t go wrong with. A daily intake of this healthy oil offers a lot of goodness. Talk to a natural health specialist and make organic flaxseed oil a part of your daily regime.

Is flaxseed oil part of your day? Let’s discuss, in the comments below!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

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  • J

    If taking flaxseeds heed the warning that it can interfere with other supplements as that happened to me. I was taking a probiotic that I had taken for years and then after I started consuming flaxseeds my probiotic wasn’t working anymore. I discovered it had to do with the mucilage in the flaxseed and it prevented my probiotic from doing it’s job in my colon and intestines, even though I was taking them hours apart from one another. I take the oil now (it does not have whole or sliced seeds in it) and have no problems and my probiotic is working again like it used to. Just know that the oil does not have the laxative effect like the seed itself does, unless of course the oil contains whole or sliced seeds, some flaxoils do, so read the label to be sure. :)

  • Flaxseed Oil

    Flaxseed and flaxseed oil is actually better to consume than fish oil.

    As you say, it is rich in ALA which the body converts into EPA and DHA and has none of the side effects and possible poisonous contamination found in fish.

    Sarah

  • Christine Mattice

    I’m a huge fan of Flaxseeds, period. I spread them on my salad and the seeds actually make my otherwise plain (and boring) lettuce very flavorable. Plus there’s a natural laxative inherent in flaxseeds that are beneficial for your health. (But if you’re not used to eating flaxseeds, don’t go overboard on the serviing size. The laxative effect may be a bit MORE than you can take!)

  • Angelyne

    Hello, I found this article very interesting, especially because here in Brazil where I live, flaxseed is the watchword.

    I would like to have your permission to translate this article into Portuguese and publish it in my own blog, indicating where it was translated from.

    Kind regards,

    Angelyne

  • http://none De

    Flaxseed oil is part of the Gerson Therapy diet. Gerson found a cure for cancer using his specific plant based diet and cured 50 cases. I am a vegetarian bordering on vegan and take organic flaxseed oil daily (2 to 4 tablespoons).

  • MW2005

    “Flax is very unique” something is unique or it is not it cannot be very!

  • Angie

    Hi! Just recently started researching flax as a supplement for a few reasons. Dry eyes, and inflammatory disease to name a few. Was not aware of the laxative effect, which I find beneficial. Is it more powerful that castor oil for that purpose? Purchased a dark refrigerated bottle of pure high lignan organic flaxseed oil today at my local heath food store. I plan on a tablespoon a day, served over some kind of salad. I also have recently purchased royal jelly with propolis, and I already take a probiotic, and grapefruit seed extract. Any advice on whether or not these are ok to mix, and should I be spacing them apart?

  • Danijean

    I deal with excema, especially during the winter months. It got so bad one year that I was prescribed a Rx shampoo, mouse, and saline solution for my scalp. None worked that well and burned pretty bad. I started taking flax seed oil regularly and almost all my symptoms on my scalp disappeared. Love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1250433064 Mary Propper

    I took flax seed oil for about a year and ended up with elevated liver enzymes. It’s the only thing I changed in my diet. Other sites do not recommend this oil. Make sure you thoroughly research oils before using on a long term basis.

  • Greenjacket

    “There are lot of genetically engineered plants that make their way into our homes and GE foods are not good for human consumption.”

    Tut, tut. GE food has not been proven to be either good or bad to human health, and such an unfounded statement is not helpful to anybody. Clearly, the good doctor has an agenda here.

  • ghc_health

    Greenjacket,
    Thank you for your post! While studies on GMOs are lacking, most of this is because Mansanto will not grant the testing of the seeds they produce. However, we are starting to see smaller studies that show the issues with GMO foods, one such study can be found here:

    http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

    I think that the other aspect to remember is that the GMO seeds will not activate with out the use of pesticides that are typically supplied by the same company that makes the seeds. Pesticides that are used on crops are Highly Toxic to human health, these two factors are enough for most to reconsider the stance on GMO foods, especially since the FDA has not completed any long term studies themselves.

    The question is, whats wrong with natural home grown seeds? and why do we NEED GMO?

    I hope that this helps, take care and be well!

  • lt

    would flaxseed oil interfere with absorption of the pill? Im trying to clear up acne with the pill but is there a chance that me also taking flax seed oil stops the pill helping my skin?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ziey.ntombi Ziey Ntombi

    hey Dr i have a problem of constipation, since i used flax oil , i don’t constipate any more i am so happy thanks

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  • Clewey44

    It is for me but it tastes AWFUL lol…

  • Mandy

    For the last few months I have taken a combination of flaxseed oil, CO-Q10 and L-Carnitine and have never felt better. I feel healthy and full of energy! Really works for me!

  • Terri

    I have bought Flaxseed oil as it is recommended as a cancer help prevention, but having had breast removed & informed this is hormone related have understood I should not take B6. This is in the oil I have now bought. Please tell me if I should or not take it daily?

  • Terri

    Am very confused with many differing diets that are recommended on the net as ‘cancer cell stopping/killing’ effects.
    Can you please help suggest links I can trust so I know what to avoid & what I can eat safely?

  • b.verma

    As u know dr there are lots of fake site are available ,so it is not very easy to trust on you or on your products…………….in this condition how a working person men/women can maintain his/her health even in the condition of obesity,although i did not use your product…as i n related to the medicine,and as i concern with my knowledge no medicine is available to reduce fat or reduce size of the body except physical exercise…so please suggest to me how can reduce my body size and weight too

  • L.V.

    i have what i consider to be a mild problem with excema. knowing that this condition is caused from the candida fungus found in the human body being fed too much sugar, i have tried very hard to watch my intake of carbs, yeast and sugar trying not to feed the fungus. i started to take the flaxseed oil, 1000mg, 2 softgels daily with food and a few days after starting the flaxseed oil the excema really flared up bad. a large patch on my foot, both forearms, back and mildly on my stomach areas. did the flaxseed oil cause the flare up due to maybe hurting the fungus growth or control?

  • Eileen

    can flax seed oil capsules help with gout

  • ghc_health

    That could be really hard to say, L.V. What else does your diet consist of? Do you eat only organic and GMO free foods? Are you exposed to other environmental toxins that could be throwing your system off balance? These are all factors that I’d personally take a look at. Have you ever performed a body cleanse?
    -Dr. Edward group

  • ghc_health

    I wish there were a database that easily separated those into “junk” and “worthwhile” categories. The thing is, many diets are just a new name for an old idea. It’s best to educate yourself about nutrition and, in short, stick to whole foods that aren’t prepackaged and made with unnatural ingredients.
    -Dr. Edward Group

  • ghc_health

    Sounds very specific to your personal situation, Terri. You may want to ask your primary healthcare provider who is aware of the nuances of your health.
    -Dr. Edward Group

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  • steve bywaters

    I had perionditis and terrible gums for over 20 years. I recently bought some flax oil(the healthiest version – organic cold pressed virgin oil) from the supermarket because it was going cheap – for no other reason than that. Within 2 days of drinking a few capfuls morning and night my gums are almost HEALED UP!. I can bite down (hard) on my teeth for the first time in so many years its like some kind of miracle that I dont understand.I keep going back to my dentist just to show him what is happening lol. He too is amazed. The strangest thing is I stopped brushing my teeth (too scared to upset whatevers happening) and my dentist says my plaque is building up but my gums are getting healthier and healthier regenerating and growing every day :). So much for plaque causing gum disease maybe? The strange thing is I had fish oils and all other kind of oils in the past and none of them ever made a blind bit of difference to anything . My dentist says It could be that the particular flax oil I bought was “cold pressed, organic, virgin oil” which is probably the bees knees in the world of flax oil I suppose. I’ve been told that because its completely unprocessed you have to keep it refrigerated or it will go off very quickly. Sorry this post is so long but I have to get this out maybe it will help someone else pls God

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  • jomo

    The way the oil is processed is not healthy but there is nothing wrong with flaxseeds. The best way to take flaxseeds is in it’s whole food form. one or two tablespoons in coffee grinder then in your vegetable juice or protein in the morning is fine. The ground flax has liver protecting lignans, vitamins and minerals that the oil does not have and the oil is processed with acids and chemicals which was probably stressing your liver. At only $2 for a 2 month supply, whole flax can eliminate the need to take expensive multivitamin supplements because of the trace mineral content. Keep in mind that you might have been reacting to the fact the the oil is a processed food! Whole, ground flaxseed is a food not a supplement. Also, keep in mind that if you purchase preground flaxseed you are purchasing a highly oxidized product. Same with fish oil. Best thing is to just eat the damned fish. It’s always best to just stick with whole foods.

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  • chippy64

    Damned fish- LOL. Good advice that I will try. Flaxseed oil supplement has given me no relief from hot flashes. I will try your advice and grind fresh. Also will eat my damned fish. Thanks.

  • Mel Insky

    ‘Promensil’ (Red Clover) and ‘Remifemin’ (Cohosh etc) are amazing for flashes/menopausal symptoms…

  • Nicki

    I have a tablespoon of flax seed oil every day blended with cottage cheese. Not only has it made my acne spots disappear but it also helps keep mild anxiety which I suffer from, at bay.

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