The Latin name of the flaxseed is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful.” Flaxseed or linseed oil is one of the major sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that appears to be beneficial for heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and other conditions.
Flaxseed has been used as a traditional food and remedy in Mediterranean cultures for thousands of years.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, advocated flax for the relief of abdominal pains.
Flaxseed or linseed also contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in the prevention of cancer. We get Flaxseed oil from the seeds of Linum usitatissimum, L (flaxseed).
A human study shows that dietary flaxseed can significantly improve lipid profile in patients with high cholesterol; additionally, it may even reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
9+ Health Benefits of Flaxseed
- Flaxseed might be useful for fatty liver patients. Consumption of 5 g of flaxseed daily for one week in the form of bread and drinks. Fecal excretion of fat increased by 50 %. Ref: Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depends on food type. Nutrition & Metabolism 2012; 9:1–8.
- Flaxseed meal enriched biscuits taken for eight weeks lower LDL, VLDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Additionally, it increases HDL cholesterol. Ref: Production of functional biscuits for lowering blood lipids. World Journal of Dairy & Food Sciences 2012;7(1):01–20.
- Eating foods with milled flaxseed lowered blood pressure in patients with atherosclerosis of the lower extremities.
- Natural treatment of bowel syndrome. Sufficient amount of dietary fiber is a cornerstone in the prevention and treatment of constipation. Flaxseed as a functional food. Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research 2005;3(3):167–188.
- Dietary supplementation with 10 g of flaxseed powder for one month reduced fasting blood glucose by 19.7 % and glycated hemoglobin by 15.6 % Ref: An open-label study on the effect of flaxseed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus. Journal of Dietary Supplements 2011 Sep; 8(3):257-65.
- Research in laboratories has shown that flaxseed inhibits the formation of colon, breast, skin, and lung tumors.
- Anti-inflammatory properties of flaxseed may protect the kidneys from damage in adults. Ref: Consumption of long-chain n-3 PUFA, α-linolenic acid, and fish is associated with the prevalence of chronic kidney disease. British Journal of Nutrition 2011 May; 105(9):1361-8.
- 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.
- 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.
Benefits of Flaxseed oil
ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) constitutes 57% of the total fatty acids in flax, making flax the richest source of ALA. Every tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 8 grams of ALA.
Omega-3 fatty acids in flax oil shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis.
Essential fatty acids appear to be important for cognitive & behavioral function as well as normal growth and development.
Clinical studies suggest strong evidence for preventing heart disease and problems that contribute to heart disease.
The range of possible uses for flaxseed oil includes High cholesterol, Heart diseases, autism, ulcers, migraine headaches, preterm labor, emphysema, psoriasis, glaucoma, Lyme disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), multiple sclerosis, and panic attacks.
How much flaxseed should you take?
There is no fixed dosage for flaxseed consumption. However, there is various suggested dosage for different health benefits, they are:
- For high cholesterol, you can take 40 to 50 grams of flaxseed per day.
- To lower triglycerides, you can take 40 to 60 grams of flaxseed oil daily.
- 15 grams for improving kidney function in people with lupus.
- 40 grams for mild menopause symptoms.
Flaxseed oil is available in liquid and soft gel capsules. This oil requires special packaging because it gets destroyed easily by heat, light, and oxygen.
Do not store grounded flaxseed for a long time; instead, you can store whole flaxseed and ground the seed when required on a daily basis using a coffee grinder.
Side effects of Flaxseed
Flaxseed oil supplements do appear to be well tolerating by most of the people, and there is a long historical use of flaxseed products without many reported side effects.
Based on animal studies, an overdose of flaxseed may cause shortening-of-breath or rapid breathing, weakness, walking difficulty, and may cause seizures. High doses of flaxseed taken without enough water, can cause constipation.
Flaxseed is rich in soluble fiber. Thus too much of it might cause diarrhea, cramping, gas, and bloating. It is advisable to increase the dose slowly in steps. Rancid (oxidized) grounded flaxseed or flaxseed oil may lead to cholesterol problems and inflammation.
Flaxseed may stimulate menstruation and other hormonal changes that could be harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding. So pregnant women are advisable to avoid ingesting it.
Flaxseed must ground before ingestion for easy digestion and maximum health benefits.