Why you need flaxseed oil in your diet

Why you need flaxseed oil in your diet

Have you come across people telling you that flaxseeds are immensely beneficial for your health? Are the claims that suggest flaxseeds are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids true? Does flaxseed oil help reduce the risk of cancers, heart diseases, or chances of a stroke? Read ahead to find out.

Flaxseed is a superfood

Flaxseeds are a superfood that has caught a lot of attention for how nutritionally dense they are. Flaxseed oil is extracted from cold pressing ripened and dried flaxseeds. It is nutritionally dense as it is a good source of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It also has protein, digestive fibers that promote gut health, Phenolic compounds (lignans) which help prevent cancer, and it contains micronutrients such as calcium and magnesium. 

Okay, it has all these, great! But, how does it help you?

Reduces Inflammation - Flaxseed oil is a good source of essential omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). One tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains roughly 7,196 mg of omega-3s[1]. The advisable amount of omega-3 that one should consume everyday is 1100 mg for women and 1600 mg for men. So having one tablespoon fulfills your daily requirement. ALA is further broken down in your body to form docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both active forms of omega-3. The recommended daily dose for EPA and DHA are 250-500 mg combined. Hence, just one spoon of flaxseed can meet these daily needs [2]

The primary function of this omega-3 compound is to reduce inflammation and promote heart health, but it also helps in reducing the chances of having a stroke, improving your memory function, and promoting a healthy liver.  

Reduces the risk of cancer cell growth - Flaxseed oil contains compounds called linoorbitides. They are best known as antioxidants that also have properties that fight cancer cells . 

ALA is another compound that restricts the spread of cancer cells and potentially kills them in some cases. The studies on ALA suggest that it is promising, although it would take an excessive quantity of flaxseed oil for a rapid recovery. Test-tube studies show similar results where flaxseed oil was responsible for reducing the growth of breast cancer cells[3][4]

Promotes a healthy heart - High blood pressure is harmful for the heart as it poses a lot of stress on it[5]. EPA and DHA from flaxseeds help in lowering blood pressure. 

Factors like aging and blood pressure decrease the elasticity of arteries over time. Flaxseed oil is likely to enhance the elasticity of your arteries, ensuring better flow of blood[6]. Since it is also high in fiber, it even helps unclog arteries and remove blockages[7]

A study was conducted to understand the effects of flaxseed oil (omega-3 fatty acids) in comparison to safflower oil (omega-6 fatty acids). The results stated that just one teaspoon of flaxseed oil consumed for 12 weeks led to a massive drop in blood pressure levels compared to safflower oil[8].

Improves gut health - Flaxseed oil has laxative properties as it has a high proportion of dietary fiber. In a study conducted on 50 constipated patients on hemodialysis for 4 weeks, the patients had increased bowel movements because of their consumption of flaxseed oil[11] proving that it helps with cases of constipation. It is also known to help with diarrhoea[9] and other gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome[10]

Aids in weight loss - A report in the Appetite journal suggests that flaxseed products help suppress hunger, which in turn make you eat less, which enables the caloric deficit required for one to lose weight over time.

Given the high amount of dietary soluble fiber in flaxseed oil, it is not surprising that one feels full and eats less. [12][13]

Promotes healthy skin - Cosmetic manufacturers include ALA because they contain remarkable anti-aging properties. In a study 13 women were asked to use flaxseed oil for 12 weeks. The results stated that they had better, smoother, and more hydrated skin. They also experienced a decrease in skin sensitivity, irritation and roughness[14].

Helps reduce menopause symptoms - A study suggested that flaxseed oil helps women with certain menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue, and mood swings[15].

Helps with men’s prostate health  - Some studies suggest that flaxseed oil can be beneficial in improving men’s prostate health[16].

 

How much flaxseed oil is too much flaxseed oil?

The preferred dosage for flaxseed oil is 10 grams a day (1-2 tablespoons). One tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains about 7,196 milligrams of ALA. The dosage might vary based on the quantity of flaxseed oil concentrate and omega-3 fatty acids used by the manufacturer. The daily recommendation of ALA for men is 1600 milligrams and 1100 milligrams for women[20]

You can include flaxseed oil in your diet with minimal efforts by adding it to your salads and sauces; smoothies and juices; or by consuming it orally. You can apply flaxseed oil externally for better skin and hair health, as well.

We at Happy Ratio incorporate flaxseed oil in our All macros - veg and vegan products, making it easier to add flaxseed oil to your diet with minimal effort. 

 

What you should NOT do

You shouldn't use flaxseed oil for cooking or baking. It has a low smoke point and can prove harmful when exposed to a lot of heat. It is best to add it to your food after cooking your meals[18]

The following people should consume flaxseed oil only after consulting a physician:

- Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers[19].

- People with bleeding disorders.

- Patients who are undergoing the initial phase of surgery. 

- People consuming blood-clotting drugs.

 

Final Thoughts 

You can benefit from flaxseed oil in numerous ways as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Flaxseed oil helps reduce inflammation and the risk of cancer cells while improving your heart and gut health. 

You need to consume 1-2 teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day to get your daily requirements fulfilled. If you stick to the prescribed dosage of not consuming more than 2 teaspoons a day, you aren’t likely to get any negative side effects[20].

Fun fact - King Charlemagne during the 8th century incorporated laws that made the consumption of flaxseeds mandatory for its numerous health benefits.

 

References:

  1. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/7554/2
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11844977/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20425756/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15849746/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4548432/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1920336/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17268413/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25889554/
  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2012.01263.x
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25238699/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22245724/
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006969?via%3Dihub
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21088453/
  15. https://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2015/05000/The_Effects_of_Flaxseed_on_Menopausal_Symptoms_and.6.aspx
  16. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10552-015-0659-4
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12269959/
  18. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y
  19. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/flaxseed-and-flaxseed-oil
  20. https://www.livestrong.com/article/518919-how-much-flax-seed-oil-should-i-use-per-day/
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