Flaxseed oil is obtained from tiny flax seeds also known as linseed. Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has a wonderful combination of healthy fats. These are essential fatty acids and are very important for the body functioning and proper healing. However, as the body is not able to produce them, it is essential to include such omega-3 fatty acid rich substances in your food. Flaxseed oil is a rich source of these healthy fats and they are very popular for various health benefits.
While it has gained repute as being useful for many health conditions, it is possibly found to be of more value in joint pain and related complaints along with other areas like lowering cholesterol and weight management. Another major factor is that flaxseed is a plant source and hence can be consumed by vegetarians as well.
Benefits of Flaxseed Oil:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Joints
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help in reducing joint pain and morning stiffness associated with many joint conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. While there are many research studies being conducted in this area, it is believed that these healthy fatty acids may be useful in managing the painful joint condition, improving joint stiffness and mobility. It may also be helpful in reducing the inflammatory reaction in arthritis, thereby reducing joint pain and swelling.
Some Of The Health Benefits Offered By Omega-3 Fatty Acids Include:
- It is beneficial for heart functioning and helps to maintain lipid and blood pressure levels.
- It provides dietary fiber and useful in constipation.
- The anti-inflammatory properties may help in promoting healthy skin and hair condition.
- It gives a feeling of fullness and supports weight management.
- It helps to improves joint function and movement.
- It may help in reducing the risk of certain types of cancers.
Flaxseed Oil and Essential Fatty Acids
The essential fatty acid which flaxseed oil contains is a precursor called, acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is then converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the forms which your body can use; these are present in fish oils. After consuming flaxseed oil, the body needs to convert the fatty acids into the later forms. This is an additional step that your body has to perform and may also have different pros and cons. This conversion process may not be successfully done in some persons, for example diabetics, which may need special consideration.
Side Effects of Flaxseed Oil
For persons under treatment for certain medical conditions, it is advisable to seek medical opinion before using flaxseed oil as it may have some interactions with the medicines. For example, anti-diabetic medications, insulin, cholesterol lowering agents, steroids and anti-coagulants.
Flaxseed oil should be used with proper advice as it can sometimes cause loose stools, stomach discomfort.
In some cases, flaxseed oil can cause allergic reactions rashes, hives or breathing difficulty.
Flaxseed oil contains the type of essential fatty acid, ALA, which may be different than consuming other essential fatty acids. ALA may also be associated with certain risks as compared to those in fish oil, like
- For persons with diabetes or other medical conditions, it is important to seek medical opinion as they may not be able to convert the essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil. They may be required to consider their intake of essential fatty acids from dietary sources or supplementation of the readily available forms, EPA and DHA.
- Unlike fish oils, ALA may be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer in men.
- While regular fish oils consumption may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, more research is being done about flaxseed oil consumption, as it can possibly increase the risk of eye diseases.
- Flaxseed oil is an extract of the seed; hence it contains only omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) and not the fiber part of the plant, which is obtained in flaxseeds. So the benefits of dietary fiber and use as a laxative may not be obtained in case of flaxseed oil.
How To Consume Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed oil can be consumed in the form of supplements, which are also available as capsules. Flaxseed oil can also be added to your soups or salad dressings. However, care should be taken as flaxseed oil cannot tolerate heat, so this oil is not used for cooking purposes. Also, if it is added to hot foods, they should be immediately consumed.
Flaxseed oil may need refrigeration once it is opened. So check for the use of the particular brand of flaxseed oil before use. Care should be taken while choosing the brands of flaxseed oil supplements or oil and a medical opinion is advisable.