15 Health Benefits of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil


Health Benefits of Flaxseeds

Flaxseed may be helpful for…

  1. Preventing and treating certain cancers, especially breast, prostate, and colon cancers
  2. Maintaining hormone levels in women of all ages and reducing hot flashes caused by menopause
  3. Bones: preventing bone loss, increasing bone density, and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis
  4. Reducing risk of cardiovascular disease because it is rich in antioxidants and good for reducing bad LDL cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol (thus protecting against heart disease)
  5. Preventing asthma.
  6. Flaxseed is rich in dietary fiber which reduces constipation and good for digestion and colon health.
  7. Lowering blood sugar and pressureand therefore helpful with Diabetes
  8. Two components in Flaxseeds may reduce inflammation for patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Asthma.
  9. May help in weight reduction
  10. Relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  11. Use as antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral
  12. Improves brain health since it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
  13. The treatment of skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, sun sensitivities, and dandruff
  14. Building immunity: the alpha-Linolenic acid and lignans decrease inflammation and promote healthy functioning of the immune system
  15. Strengthening skin, hair, and fingernails
Brown, Ground, and Golden Flaxseed

Brown, Ground, and Golden Flaxseed | Source

Why Your Body Needs Flaxseed

Flaxseeds, originally from Mesopotamia, have been consumed since the Stone Age. These seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (an essential fat your body can’t make on its own). They are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and manganese (required for proper nutrient absorption, enzyme function, bone development, and wound healing). They are also a good source of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, and copper, and rich in lignan phytonutrients (which are high in antioxidants and fiber and have anti-estrogenic effects).

One of its unique characteristics is the oil in the seed: Flaxseed is over 40 percent oil. Like other vegetable oils, flax oil is a mixture of fatty acids, but flax is the best source of omega-3s, fatty acids called alpha-Linolenic acid or ALA. It’s also a great source of omega-6s, and the only seed that has both types.

ALA is a member of the omega-3 fatty acid family. The body cannot make these fatty acids, but they are necessary for normal growth and development. These fats must be attained via diet. Hundreds of studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Although flax has been around since the dawn of civilization, it was only recently that people started paying attention to its nutritious and healthy benefits.

Flaxseeds are…

  • rich in omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acid alpha-Linolenic acid or ALA) and omega-6 (linoleic acid or LA)
  • a great source of lignans, vitamins (vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, and carotene), and minerals (iron, zinc, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium)
  • high in fiber
  • great antioxidants (significantly higher in polyphenol antioxidants than many fruits or vegetables)
  • a high-quality protein
  • full of a phytonutrient called lignin
  • ingestible as whole seeds, oil, powder, or capsules.
Homemade Flax Seed Crackers with Dip

Buying and Using Flaxseed

Whole flax seeds are sold inexpensively at natural food stores and some grocery stores. It is best to buy them whole and grind them as needed in a coffee grinder.

Flax seeds can be eaten alone, via capsule, or added to food. The whole seeds are more nutritious than just their oils. Although it might sound like a good idea, it’s not recommended that you cook with flaxseed oil, since the heat can turn these healthful fats into harmful ones. You can add ground flax seeds or flax oil to already cooked foods, just before serving.

Note: It is a good idea to grind these tiny, hard-shelled seeds, or they will pass through the body undigested and your body will not benefit from many of the seeds’ nutritional values. If you are using them for constipation, however, the whole seed can be ingested, since this combination of oil and fiber makes an ideal laxative.

Because flax oils turn rancid quickly, it’s best to follow these rules:

  • Try to reduce its exposure to light, heat, and air.
  • If you’re grinding your own, grind it as you use it rather than ahead of time, as this will preserve the flax oils longer.
  • Keep your flax in the refrigerator, preferably in a dark (light and air-tight) container.
  • Because after six weeks it’s likely to go bad, buy it in small batches.

Easy Ways to Use Flax Seed

There are countless different ways of using flax seeds. Some of the easiest are noted here.

  • While making chapathis, add 3-4 tablespoons of flaxseed powder to the wheat flour before kneading. (Ratio: 2 tbsp. milled flax seed powder to every 1 cup of wheat flour)
  • Flax seed oil can be dribbled on the chapathis after cooking, in place of ghee or some other cooking oil
  • Sprinkle 1-2 tbs. flax seed powder in salads or smoothies
  • Add 2-3 tbs. to your bowl of cereal or cooked oatmeal
  • 2-3 tbs. flax seed powder can be added in the dosa batter while making dosas.

Identifying Flaxseed

Flaxseeds, also called linseeds, are flat, oval, glossy, and have a hard hull that’s pointed at one end. They are light to dark reddish brown in colour.

“Flaxseed” in Different Languages

Word(s) for “Flaxseed”
ali vidai, ali virai
bittu, alasi, atasi
cheruchana vithu
alasi, neem pushpi, kshuma, pichhala, atasi
alasi, tisi
jagira, tukhme kattan

Using Flaxseed for Weight Loss

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Lakshmi Menon is a published author who writes both fiction and non-fiction, including health and travel articles.