Flax Seed Benefits
Health Benefits of Flax Seed Oil
Are there any Flax Seed Oil Side Effects?
Flax seed benefits were recognized thousands of years ago as Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans prized the seeds as a source of food, the oils as medicine, and the fibers were used to weave clothes, sails, and other items.
Today, flax seed - also called linseed are touted for its rich health benefits that are found in their seeds and oil. In fact, flax seed oil is derived by pressing them.
Flax seed and flax seed oil is an excellent plant source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid called omega 3. Flax seed - not the oil - also contain fiber and lignans.
Flax Seed Benefits
How Can Flax Seed Benefit You?
Flax seed – not the oil - is a good source of fiber,
which promotes intestinal health. However, the fiber found in flax seed has an added bonus because it is both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber is the type that helps the digestive tract by forming the bulk of the stool and absorbing toxins. On the other hand, soluble fiber is the type that dissolves in water and is absorbed in the digestive tract. Nevertheless, flax seed has been used to prevent and alleviate constipation. In addition, your cholesterol levels may be kept in check by flaxseed's heart-healthy soluble fiber.
The lignans, which is also found in flax seed (not the oil), is a form of phytoestogens (a chemical similar to the human hormone estrogen) that researchers believe may hold therapeutic powers to help protect the body against colon, prostrate, and breast cancer. In addition, these natural estrogen-like substances may be beneficial for relieving menopausal symptoms.
Lignans also appear to harbor antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties making it useful to fight viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Flax seed also consists of a nutritious profile, containing vitamins such as vitamin A, some of the B's, D, and E, and many minerals. It also contains carotene, lecithin, and many different amino acids.
Side Note: More studies are needed to determine whether flax seed is helpful in cancer prevention.
Flax Seed Benefits – Benefits of Flax Seed Oil
Flax seed and flax seed oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a biologic precursor to omega-3 fatty acids.
The Omega 3's are essential fatty acids that the body needs and cannot manufacture and, as such, it must be obtained through diet or supplements.
Studies have shown that the omega 3 fatty acids are important to cardiovascular health. It helps to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduces the risk of blood clots, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Flax seed oil also harbors anti- inflammatory properties, which may ease the pain, swelling, and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.
Flax Seed Oil Side Effects and Precautions
Indeed, flax seed benefits are substantial, but it's also important to be aware of any possible side effects and precautions. Flax is considered safe for almost everyone since it really is simply a food source.
However, people who suffer from gallbladder problems may experience trouble digesting flax seed oil, which can be resolved if you start with very small amounts (1 teaspoon) and build up the dosage of flax seed oil over time.
Constipation could also be a possible side effect if you don't drink enough water when you start taking flax seed.
Flax seed should be avoided by anyone with a bowel obstruction.
Because of the potential interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider, especially those who are on blood-thinning medications, cholesterol-lowering medications, cyclosporine, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Anyone with a health condition, or women that are pregnant or nursing should always consult a physician before supplementation.
In addition, flax seed oil and flax seed should always be refrigerated in a dark, airtight container to protect it from turning rancid. It should keep for a month.
Without a doubt flax seed benefits are healthful, but it does have one crucial drawback.
The alpha-linolenic acid component of flax seed, which is the main health benefit of flax seed oil, must go through a complex conversion because it is a biologic precursor to omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, your body has to convert alpha-linolenic acid into DHA and EPA (omega 3 fatty acids), to obtain the benefits. Therefore, if your health is compromised, or you are elderly, this conversion may be very difficult and the benefits may be lost.
Therefore, we recommend that you directly take a rich source of Omega-3 instead of flax seed oil.
So, what is a far superior rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids?
Our research indicates that new evidence has emerged that fish oil might be a better source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Because fish oil contains the important fatty acids EPA and DHA that does not have to be converted by the body like ALA in flax.
Moreover, according to the well-renowned tome "Nutraceuticals The Complete Encyclopedia of Supplements, Herbs, Vitamins, and Healing Foods" by Arthur J. Roberts, M.D., Mary E. O'Brien, M.D., and Genell Subak-Sharpe, M.S., the author's state:
"A third type of omega-3 fatty acid, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in flaxseed oil and some green leafy vegetables; while it also is beneficial, it does not appear to be quite as effective as fish oils." (pg. 298)
If you're interested in finding out more about the benefits of fish oil and how to select quality fish oil supplements, please visit our fish oil webpage by clicking here:
The Health Benefits of Fish Oil
We hope this webpage discussing flax seed benefits was useful to you!
To Your Health!
Always consult your physician or a qualified medical professional before taking any dietary supplements.
Much more than flax seed benefits can be found at our Herbal Guide web-page