Flaxseed oil is one of those nondescript ingredients known around the world for its protective properties and various health benefits, but which was rarely yelled at until relatively recently.
Made from the dried natural seeds of the flax plant, the oil is rich in nutrients that complement your intake through a healthy daily diet.
Used since the earliest days of civilization, the versatility of flaxseed oil is evident – it has been known to be used in cooking and as part of diet plans, as well as skin care routines. Flaxseeds are readily available in health food stores and are known as the new “superfood,” claims that are backed up by scientific research.
What is flaxseed oil?
Charlemagne (aka Charlemagne) was a well-known medieval emperor who ruled most of Western Europe from 768 to 814. He was one of the first to recognize the health benefits of flaxseed and ordered his loyal subjects to eat the ancient grain every day to promote healthy living. According to Healthline, flax seeds were given the name linum usitatissimum, which means “most useful”.
Flaxseed oil is now also known as linseed oil or linseed oil. It is made by pressing ground flaxseed, which releases the natural oils.
Beyond cooking use, the use of flaxseed oil on the skin has been found to help hydrate and eliminate dryness, balance pH, improve elasticity, and remove blemishes. As such, it is a helpful part of any skin care routine.
The benefits of flaxseed oil
Whether in its original form (as a seed) or as an oil, flaxseed offers the same generous health benefits. It’s an essential source of nutrients that is also a good source of vegan protein. In addition, a small amount of flaxseed provides the recommended daily intake of fiber.
There are many benefits to using flaxseed oil on a daily basis:
- The oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and protect the brain from premature aging. It’s a useful alternative to fish oil (especially for vegans) to ensure you’re getting the recommended ALA requirements of one tablespoon a day.
- Flaxseed oil can be beneficial for those trying to shed a few pounds. As part of a healthy diet, the protein-rich oil can help you feel full earlier (probably in connection with a hormone-stimulated reaction in the intestine).
- Research at the National Institutes of Health has shown that flaxseed oil promotes a healthy heart. One tablespoon per day for 12 weeks has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure compared to other similar oils.
- Flaxseed oil can help make the coronary arteries more elastic, which has an impact on improving overall heart health.
- Limited studies are beginning to find a correlation between flaxseed oil use and reducing cancer cell growth. While research is still ongoing and has not yet been tested on humans, scientists are hoping for the oil’s healing properties.
- Flaxseed oil can be used as a laxative to treat constipation, increase stool frequency, and improve stool consistency. Its properties are similar to those of mineral oil and can also be used to treat diarrhea.
Possible side effects of flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil is safe for human consumption and has little or no known side effects. If taken in large amounts, gas, diarrhea or frequent flatulence may occur. Drinking a full glass of water with each dose can prevent unexpected discomfort.
Always cautiously start using a new supplement. Start gradually to see how your body is tolerating the new nutrient and work your way up to the recommended dosage over a few weeks to avoid unwanted side effects.
When to use flaxseed oil (and when not to)
The Hemsley sisters – authors of the healthy eating cookbook Good + Simple – recommend using flaxseed oil in cooking and say it’s a must have in any kitchen pantry. Flaxseed oil is a healthy alternative to heavy cooking oils and is perfect for drizzling over food or adding to dips.
In addition to cooking, flaxseed oil is also a popular product for some women to reduce wrinkles. However, it is not necessarily applied externally. For best results, take one tablespoon four times a day. Build up this dosage slowly to avoid digestive problems and see if your body is okay with this natural solution.
Eating unripe or raw flaxseed is discouraged by everyone, but pregnant women should not ingest flaxseed or flaxseed oil at all. If you are performing elective surgery, it is recommended that you avoid flaxseed for two weeks before reducing the risk of blood clotting.
As with any dietary supplement, check with your doctor before taking flaxseed oil to make sure it does not interact with currently prescribed medications.
How to use and apply flaxseed oil practically
When it comes to healthy eating, flaxseed can be easily incorporated into your diet via a morning smoothie. Just a dash of flaxseed oil provides the omega-3 fatty acids necessary to give the body a well-deserved boost.
Thorbjorg, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Anti-Aging”, recommends combining a tablespoon of cold-pressed flaxseed oil with a juice and drinking it after every meal. The Danish nutritionist claims that “some women need an extra oil supplement for lunch and at night”. She goes on to explain this, saying, “If you get hungry or crave sugar immediately after eating, you are likely one of them.”
Implementing flaxseed oil into your daily skin care regimen is also beneficial and can also be applied topically or orally.
Whichever mode you choose, a daily dose of flaxseed should offer the same generous and far-reaching benefits that people have enjoyed for centuries. Well worth a try.