Flax Oil

Flax Oil

Flax oil is made from flaxseed of the plant, Linum usitatissimum.  Flaxseed oil contains fibre, lignans and essential Omega-3 fatty acid-ALA.  Each of these components has health benefits for our bodies. In this article, we look into some of the health and lifestyle benefits of this oil.

Gut Health

Flax oil contains soluble and insoluble fibres that are good for the gut. Adding just 10 ml of flaxseed oil in your daily diet increases the daily fibre intake by 1 g of soluble fibre and by 3g of insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps to improve laxation and prevent constipation, mainly by increasing faecal bulk and reducing the time to clear your bowel (Goyal, et al., 2014). It’s always important to drink adequate water with fibre intake. Too much flax oil can possibly cause diarrhoea and loose stool due to its fibre content.

A daily intake of 1-2 tablespoons is recommended.

Antioxidants

Lignans is an antioxidant in flax oil and works to protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are by-products from pollution, smoking, unhealthy diets, disease etc. These free radicals enter your body and damages cells that can lead to Alzheimer disease, nerve damages, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Flax lignans have shown promising effects in reducing the growth of cancerous tumours, especially hormone-sensitive ones such as those of the breast, endometrium and prostate (Goyal, et al., 2014) (Buckner, et al., 2019) (Parikh, et al., 2019). 

For optimal health benefits and more antioxidants, it is important to incorporate flax oil in a healthy diet.

Omega Content

Flax oil also contains the highest amount of Omega-3 fatty acid ALA comparing to any other food. ALA has the potential to decrease total cholesterol and can help to lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases (Rodriques-Levya, et al., 2010). A healthy diet contains a ration of Omega-3:Omega-6, 1:4 but today’s western diet has the ratio of 1:30 that can increase the risks for cancer (Buckner, et al., 2019). Sunflower oil contains more omega 6 and therefore flax oil is a good substitute.

Usage Guidelines

Unfortunately, as you heat flax oil to a temperature higher than 105 degrees Celsius, it loses most of its health benefits (ZHANG, et al., 2013). However, the good news is that flaxseed oil is very versatile. For starters, it can easily be swapped for other types of oil in salad dressings, dips and sauces. You can also add one serving (one tablespoon or 15 ml) into smoothies or shakes to add some flaxseed oil into your diet with minimal effort.

Caution has been advised for flaxseed consumption during pregnancy and lactation. (Parikh, et al., 2019). Overall it is a great and healthy addition to your lifestyle if you stick to the daily recommended intake combined with a well-balanced diet.

For more information on a healthy lifestyle, make an appointment with Josi Badenhorst for a consultation by using the subject title: Hamba Flax.

Contact her at: josibdietitians@gmail.com

Instagram profile:  josibadenhorstdietitian1

References

Goyal, A., Sharma, V., Upadahyay N, G. & Sihag, M., 2014. Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medecine & modern function food. PMC, 9(51), pp. 1633-1653.

Parikh, M. et al., 2019. Dietary flaxseed as a strategy for improving human health. Nutrients, 11(5).

Rodriques-Levya, D., Bassett, C. M. C., Mc Cullough, R. & Piercea, G. N., 2010. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. The canadian Journal of cardiology, 26(9), p. 489–496.

ZHANG, Z. S., Li, D. & Zhang, L. X., 2013. Effect of heating on the fatty acid composition and oxidation products of flaxseed oil. Asian journal of Chemistry , 25(18).

Buckner, A. L., Buckner, C. A., Montauts, S. & Lafreinie, R. M., 2019. Treatment with flaxseed oil induces apoptosis in cultured malignant cells. Heliyon, 5(8).

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