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Flax Seed Oil

Overview

Flax seed oil, derived from ground and emulsified flax seeds, is high in the essential fatty acid, alpha linoleic acid. It also provides omega 6 fatty acids, in the correct proportion for the body’s use. In addition, flax seed oil also is a rich source of vegetable lignans, powerful antioxidants which help fight the effects of aging and may help prevent various forms of cancer.

 

Flax seed oil is widely available, and is recommended as a dietary supplement source of omega 3 fatty acids by the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association and the National Cancer Institute. Flax seed oil benefits are well known and well documented in multiple studies in many countries.

 

What Flax Seed Oil Does:

Flax seed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant. Flax seed oil has a long history of use as a healing agent – it was used as early as Egyptian times as an ointment to promote healing in wounds. It has been used to treat a wide variety of ills from heart disease to lupus.

 

Because of its high concentration of essential fatty acids that the body uses to manufacture new cells, it is especially effective in promoting the growth of new tissue. Flax seed oil is rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, including alpha linoleic acid, which the body can convert to the fatty acids it uses to manufacture brain cells, nerve tissue, skin cells, heart cells, lung cells – in fact, cells in nearly every part of the body. It is especially used in the cells that have a high fat concentration – the brain and neural cells. Doctors and researchers believe that this is the reason that flax seed oil and other oils high in omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in treating depression, schizophrenia and other brain and neurological disorders that may be caused by errant message receptors in neural cells.

 

Flax seed oil is also high in lignans, phytonutrients which help protect against cancer through antioxidant activity. Because of the high concentration of lignans in flax seed oil, it may be effective in preventing breast cancer, colorectal cancer and other forms of cancer. It is, in fact, one of the food products named by the National Cancer Institute as having anti-cancer properties.

 

 

Health Benefits of Flax Seed Oil:

Specifically, flax seed oil has been shown effective in the following uses.

 

Lowers cholesterol

Flax seed oil lowers cholesterol and fights heart disease. One teaspoon of flax seed oil contains more than twice the amount of alpha linoleic acid as the recommended daily minimum. Alpha linoleic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid, lowers cholesterol, and reduces the risk of heart disease.

 

Protects against cancer

Another important flax seed oil benefit is its cancer prevention properties. Because flax seed oil contains lignans which have a high antioxidant activity level, the National Cancer Institute names flax as one of the foods that offer a ‘modest’ level of protection against cancer. Specifically, it seems to protect against breast cancer thanks to two particular lignans that bear a resemblance to human estrogen.

 

Reduces inflammation

One well known flax seed oil benefit is its anti-inflammatory effects. Flax seed oil is one of the richest known sources of omega-3 fat, since linoleic acid comprises 55 percent of the oil. This provides flax with its anti-inflammatory effect (and hence the possible usefulness for the treatment of lupus, arthritis, and different allergies) and the ability to boost the immune system (American Dietetic Association, USDA).

 

Control constipation and relieve inflammatory bowel disease

A lesser-known flax seed oil benefit is its effect on the digestive system, particular in intestinal disorders. Flax seed oil can help control and relieve constipation, keep the intestinal tract free of ‘waste pockets’ and ease the inflammation associated with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. There is also preliminary evidence to suggest that flax seed oil may help prevent the formation of gallstones.

 

Reduces the symptoms of acne, seborrhea, rosacea, sunburn and other skin conditions

Essential fatty acids promote skin healing, thins sebaceous oils in the case of acne, and help heal psoriasis, eczema and sunburn.

 

Alleviates numbness, tingling and pain caused by nerve damage

Because of the high level of EFA in flax seed oil, there is some evidence that it helps reverse damage caused by diabetic neuropathy and other conditions that affect the transmission of neural messages, thus relieving tingling, numbness and pain.

 

Possible Side Effects of Flax Seed Oil

Initially, those starting on supplementation with flax seed oil may experience some flatulence, but it usually fades as the body grows accustomed to it. There have been rare reported instances of allergic reaction.  If you are taking medication, consult your doctor, as flax seed may interfere with the absorption of some medications.

 

Summary

Because our modern diets are so depleted in omega 3 essential fatty acids, most doctors recommend taking a supplement high in omega 3 to provide enough of this vital nutrient. Flax seed oil provides a high concentration of essential fatty acids in a very small dosage – nearly 2 and a half times the minimum recommended daily intake. Supplementing your diet with flax seed or flax seed oils is an especially good choice for those that avoid meat and animal products.

 

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