Flaxseed oil is one of those things that most people have heard of, but few actually know what it does. When you actually look into it, though, there are a ton of bonuses to adding a supplement to your daily routine. I was honestly shocked by how many flaxseed oil benefits there are! With a lot of essential oils and other things, the benefits are of a more day-to-day nature, but flaxseed oil has a lot more long-term benefits as well!
What Is Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed oil is exactly what it sounds like: flaxseeds ground and pressed to release their natural oil. It’s also known as flax oil or linseed oil. It also comes in a variety of forms, which makes it easy to add to your diet. You can get flaxseed oil tablets to take as a supplement, substitute the oil in salad dressings and sauces, or bake the seeds into cookies! More on all of the options for that later.
The one major thing to keep in mind about flaxseed oil is that it has a very short shelf life. When oxidized, flaxseed oil becomes rancid, which is why it should be kept in the refrigerator. In commercially sold oil, antioxidants are often added to slow this process. But if the oil has an unpleasant odor, it should be discarded. After a few weeks, you should check it before use. Now that you know a bit more about flaxseed oil, here are all of the benefits!
While there haven’t been extensive studies on the benefits of flaxseed oil related to cancer, there is evidence that it prevents the spread of tumors. Research is still at the level of animal studies, but it has had an effect on breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer.
It has been proven that flaxseed oil has a direct effect on the hormone levels in your body, which means that it contributes to fighting hormone-related cancers. Their antioxidant properties also fight against healthy cells turning into cancer cells. In addition, flax seeds are an ingredient in nearly every diet recommended for cancer patients.
Controls Pain from Inflammation
There is conflicting research done on this topic. In general, flaxseed has been touted as having a similar effect to olive oil in reducing inflammation. However, some studies say that these results are only consistent for particular parts of the population. At the very least, flaxseed oil would have a more obvious effect in this way on people who are overweight. The average-weight, healthy adult would likely have stronger results from another product.
That being said, flaxseed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can work wonders addressing specific, more serious conditions. As mentioned above, flaxseeds have been shown to have an effect on the colon and digestive tract. Because of this, they can have a notable effect on pain management for people suffering from Crohn’s Disease. While Crohn’s is relatively rare, it can be a serious and painful condition. Flaxseed oil won’t cure the disease, but will certainly help with the pain management.
Similarly, flaxseed oil can fight pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic joint and muscle pains. It can also be a short-term fix for soreness after a fall or a hard workout at the gym. Again, the recommended dosage is about a tablespoon a day – which could easily be added to a smoothie or other snack without strongly affecting the flavor.
Manages Skin Conditions
Consuming about a tablespoon of flaxseed oil a day has been shown to improve skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. Taking a flaxseed oil supplement improves the hydration and elasticity of your skin, naturally fighting dry skin. That means that it could be especially good to add a flaxseed oil supplement to your diet in the winter!
There hasn’t been much research done into applying flaxseed oil directly to the skin, but it’s possible that there would be similar results. For now, I would recommend sticking with a supplement or higher flaxseed content in your diet. Again, the results won’t be immediate, but over time you should notice less inflammation and a decreased sensitivity to irritation in the affected area.
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has a lot of health benefits. It’s primarily known for being in fish like salmon and anchovies, but also in some nuts and seeds. Flaxseeds actually have the highest concentration of omega-3, with 19.5 grams per 3oz. For comparison, sardines have the highest level of omega-3 in any fish variety, with only about 2 grams per 3oz.
The extra great part about this is that flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, which your body converts to DHA and EPA. DHA is the primary component that makes up the human brain, skin, and retina, so it’s understandably a necessity to include in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, in general, are critical to your health and have a number of major health benefits.
Omega-3 helps to moderate cholesterol levels because it eliminates LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and boosts HDL (the good kind). Basically, this means that there won’t be buildup in your arteries and blood vessels. In the short term, this lowers blood pressure, which decreases your overall risk for heart disease and stroke later in life!
Flaxseed oil contains high levels of fiber, which is necessary to keep your digestive tract working properly. Fiber helps to break up stool as it is processed, lowering the risk of constipation. Flaxseeds also help fight diarrhea, since they help hold together watery stool.
Flaxseed oil effectively functions as a natural laxative, helping to regulate bowel movements and keep everything flowing regularly and eliminate bloating. It does take a while to reap the effect of flaxseed oil here, so if you’re in crisis, stick with the well-known home remedies like drinking milk or eating a lot of fresh fruits.
As women, our hormones have a major effect on our daily lives. Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what is going on in my body to make me feel a certain way! Since flaxseed oil contains essential fatty acids (like Omega-3 mentioned above), they work to regulate hormone levels through PMS and menopause. Flaxseeds are also one of the few foods that contain lignans, which release estrogen-like chemicals into the body.
The lignans and EFAs in flaxseed oil prevent elevated hormone levels, meaning that everything will be less extreme when hormones do flare up. This is especially beneficial later in life when a woman enters menopause. As menstruation becomes less regular, the body’s hormones become more irregular as well. Adding flaxseeds to the diet can help avoid some of the nastier side effects of menopause.
Flaxseed Oil Uses
There are a lot of ways to add flaxseeds to your diet. As briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, flaxseed oil can easily be substituted for other types of oil in salad dressings and sauces. Flaxseed oil shouldn’t be used in cooking. The oil has a low smoke point, and it can become harmful when exposed to high heat. You can also add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies or shakes to get quick benefits.
Flaxseeds themselves can also be used in a variety of ways. Keep in mind, though, that if they’re not chewed properly, they’ll go right through your system without leaving any of the benefits behind! If you grind the seeds up, though, you can add them to almost anything! Adding a tablespoon of flax seeds leaves a nutty taste behind – delicious in baked goods or glazes.
Finally, you can pick up a flaxseed supplement in the vitamins aisle of your local store. If you don’t want to deal with perishable flaxseed oil or having to grind flaxseeds, this is a great way to still reap the benefits. You can get one hundred 1400mg tablets for less than $10. It’s recommended that you take one per day, so just pop one of the tablets with breakfast and you’re good to go!
- May help support cardiovascular health.†
- Helps support healthy cellular function.†
- Plant-based source of omega-3s if you avoid fish in your diet.
Flaxseed Oil Recipes
If you do want to try including flaxseeds or flaxseed oil in your diet without a supplement, here are a few delicious recipes to try!
Watercress Walnut Pear and Roquefort Salad. The flaxseed benefit here comes from the oil, which is a key ingredient in the dressing to go along with this salad. The recipe is designed to feed two, so you can make it larger for a party or smaller for yourself (or keep the recipe the same and have leftovers!). The recipe is vegetarian as it is, but I bet it would be delicious if you added a bit of grilled chicken. Ingredients:
- 55g walnuts
- 150g watercress
- 1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced
- 85g Roquefort cheese
- 60ml crème fraîche
- 90ml flaxseed oil
- 25g Roquefort cheese, grated
- Salt & pepper to taste
Whole Wheat Crepes with Flaxseed. This recipe makes approximately 4 servings and only takes 20 minutes to prepare. In this case, you’re getting the benefit from ground flaxseed that goes into the batter for the crepes. If crepes aren’t your go-to breakfast food, feel free to sleuth around for other recipes – I saw pancakes, waffles, and porridge in my search, too! Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Maple Syrup
- Whipped Cream
No-Bake Energy Bites. This one is probably the easiest recipe since all you have to do is combine all of the ingredients, roll them into balls, and let chill. However, it also takes the longest. Your no-bakes should be ready in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Again, you’re getting the flaxseed benefit from ground flaxseeds. The recipe yields about 2 dozen bites. Ingredients:
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Again, you can add flaxseeds to nearly anything. Drizzle it on top of your favorite salad, add some oil or ground seeds to a smoothie, or look up any of the other delicious recipes that people have come up with. Enjoy!
Because of the many benefits of flaxseed oil, it also naturally aids in weight loss. It can also help to make your hair healthier, calm your nerves, and keep your skin looking young as you age. The best part is that there aren’t any negative side effects to note, so as long as you’re consuming flax oil in its recommended dosage, there’s no reason not to add it to your diet.
This isn’t something that I’ve tried enough to reap any of the major benefits of, but I’d certainly like to start eating more flaxseeds after learning all of the good things that come with it! Are you someone who already includes flaxseed oil in your diet? Is there a benefit you’ve noticed that I missed? Let me know in the comments!