Health Benefits of Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil comes from flaxseed. The oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the many essential fatty acids. The body uses ALA to make omega-3 fatty acids.

Experts agree that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining heart health and preventing heart disease.

Research studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can bring down triglyceride (a type of fat) levels and lower blood pressure. It can also reduce the chances of getting a stroke or a heart attack by thinning the blood out a little to help prevent blood clots.

Although omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help with treating arthritis conditions, strangely, flaxseed oil doesn't seem to be effective for this. Indeed, the fatty acid ALA found in flaxseed oil doesn't seem to work as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

What else is found in flaxseed oil?

Another useful chemical found in abundance in flaxseed (and not the oil) is lignans.

Lignans possess antioxidant properties.They also seem to have estrogen-like benefits (phytoestrogens) and may be helpful in treating diseases such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). It is also helpful in easing symptoms of menopause.

Indeed the Asian population, which has more lignans in their diet than most other cultures, have a lower incidence of breast cancer and heart disease. Experts believe it is due to their diet containing large amounts of these phytoestrogens.

Claims of health benefits

Studies done in human show that flaxseed oil may be helpful in lowering cholesterol,reducing blood pressure and slowing down the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are significantly more effective at this than flaxseed oil.

Because flaxseed (and not the oil) shows phytoestrogen properties, women have used it to reduce breast tenderness and help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

It can also help reduce menopause symptoms as well.

Animal and lab studies show that active chemicals found in flaxseed can slow down or stop cancer cells from multiplying. Human trials will need to be done to verify this benefit.

Other health benefits of flaxseed

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil have be suggested to help treat the following health conditions:

  • arthritis (osteoarthritis / rheumatoid arthritis)
  • skin conditions
  • acne
  • applied to the skin to treat burns
  • irritable bowel disorder (IBS)
  • breast cancer and other forms of cancer
  • lower high blood sugar levels
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What's the difference between flaxseed versus flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil only has the ALA fatty acid only whereas flaxseed has the ALA and the lignan as well.

Dose to Use

There are no definite dose for the amount of flaxseed oil to take daily. Take about 15 mL (1 tablespoonful) once daily. Dosage as high as 3 tablespoonful (45 mL) has been used to treat various health conditions.

It can be taken by mouth or added to cooking or used as a salad dressing.

Bottom Line

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and flaxseed oil may improve the health of the cardiovascular system. Experts suspect that it has the potential to reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

If you are planning to use flaxseed oil for heart health, omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil are a much better choice.

As flaxseed oil does not contain lignan, it may not be effective as taking grounded flaxseed for some health conditions (such as PMS, breast tenderness, breast cancer and menopause symptoms).

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Created:January 7, 2010