What Are the Benefits of Flaxseed Oil?

What Are the Benefits of Flaxseed Oil?

What exactly is flaxseed oil, and what is it about flax seeds that makes them so healthy?

What’s the dilly-o with flaxseed oil and flax seeds? Sounds pretty healthy, right? 

First things first, flax seed comes from this really pretty baby blue plant:

Now onto the nutrition side of things. What are the benefits of this pretty plant? Flaxseed oil is rich in an Omega-3 fatty acid, called ALA. After you digest flax, ALA is converted in your bod to the two other Omega-3s (good stuff!!) found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, lake trout, or albacore tuna.

Omega 3's have a gazillion health benefits including:

  • Lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (the bad guys you want less of) and raising HDL cholesterol (the good guys you want more of that we discussed in looking at eggs)
  • Preventing and controlling high blood pressure
  • Reducing the risk of ADHD, heart disease and stroke, and depression
  • Improving skin, hair, and nails
  • Reducing inflammation for joint pain and rheumatoid problems
  • Essential for brain growth and function

    So, as a responsible consumer who would rather save money for the new Halo Reach (yeah, I dabble in xbox) instead of spending it on seeds… is Flaxseed Oil worth that hard earned moolah (even if it's only $6.99 in the 1R Store)?

If you can't or don't eat omega-3 rich fish due to dietary restrictions, then absolutely. If you get your Omega 3s from flax you are also getting the benefits of fiber and plant phytoestrogens called lignans (which may lower the risk of breast and prostate cancer) without worrying about contaminants like mercury. You do have to consume more flax (1-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily) compared to fish oil to get the same benefits. And if you invest in the oil, know that it can go rancid if it’s not stored properly, which would be a total waste of said moolah.

If you’re an avid cold-water fish consumer, then flax may not be a necessary investment. Our bodies have to convert the omega 3’s found in flax (ALA) to the omega 3’s found in fish oil (DHA and EPA). So if you’re getting DHA and EPA from fish or fish oil supplements, your body doesn’t have to do the extra conversion work. Just make sure they’re high quality (not Costco brand) if you’re going with supplements. Want to avoid freaky marine toxins wherever possible.


 

If you go with flaxseed oil, here are a few recommendations for getting the flax seed goodness into your day:

Try drizzling it on a salad in place of olive oil or in fresh fruit smoothies. Like the seeds? Sprinkle ground ones on yogurt, oatmeal, or pancake/muffin batter. Also check it out in pre-made oatmeals, cereals, or pastas.

So, now knowing what flaxseed oil is, and what the benefits of flax are, it's time to Getchyo Flax On!

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About the Author

Carolyn is a Nutritionist/Registered Dietitian and has her masters in Clinical Nutrition from NYU. She went to Tulane in New Orleans for undergrad, spent 3 months traveling around the world on Semester at Sea and then swung through Boulder, CO before landing in her current home of NYC. Carolyn has a blog called One Smart Brownie (www.onesmartbrownie.com) to simplify healthy eating for those who don’t spend their lives studying nutrition. Her favorite hobbies include getting new stamps on her passport and telling yo mama jokes, and she says that if she were to have a crush on a food it would be chocolate biscotti, no questions asked.