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Flax Seed Oil

This is an educational site for anyone looking for information on flax seed oil. The information here should not be a substitute for expert medical advice and should not be taken over the advice of a physician.

What is a flax?
Flax, sometimes known as linseed, is a blue flower that is part of the Linaceae family - a group of some 150 plant species distributed around the world. The flax flower, grown for both the flax seed and its flaxseed oil (linseed oil), has many uses. After processing, the flax seed is made up of 1/3 oil and 2/3 fiber, protein, and mucilage. When the oil is extracted, it becomes a rich source of essential fatty acids, containing alpha linolenic acid, omega 3 Essential Fatty Acid (EFA), and omega 6 essential fatty acid. Omega 3 essential fatty acid helps to build cell membranes in the body, which serve to protect the cells of the body. The brain is also largely composed of fats, known as phospholipids. Phospholipids are made frome essential fatty acids (EFAs), which can be found in flax seed products. A diet that is deficient in omega 3 can cause a number of health risks. Apart from the flax seed oil, the fiberous byproduct of flax seeds are a great source of lignans, vitamins, and minerals.

Flax seed oil is a rich, vegetarian source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, like those in flax seeds are critical in the production of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins help regulate fat metabolism, inflammatory response, hormones, as well as the cardiovascular, immune and central nervous systems. There is some concern by physicians that modern diets may be too rich in omega 6 fatty acids and deficient in omega 3's, which can contribute to health concerns.

Flax seed oil is heart-healthy because it contains alpha-linolenic acid. Flax seed itself (ground or whole) also contains lignans, which may have antioxidant actions and may help protect against certain cancers, though this is far from certain.

Where does flax seed oil, or ground flax seed, for that matter, come from?
Flax seed oil is derived from the seed of the flax plant. Flax seed oil and flax seed contain substances that promote good health. flax seed oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that appears to be beneficial for heart disease, inflamatory bowel disease, arthritis and a variety of other health conditions. Flax seed, in addition to ALA, contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in the prevention of cancer.

ALA, as well as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), belong to a group of substances called omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish while ALA is mostly found in flax seed oil and other vegetable oils. Although similar in structure, the benefits of ALA , EPA, and DHA are not necessarily the same.

It is important to maintain an appropriate balance of omega 3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet as these two substances work together to promote health. These essential fats are both examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. An inappropriate balance of these essential fatty acids contributes to the development of disease while a proper balance helps maintain and even improve health. A healthy diet should consist of roughly two to four times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids and many researchers believe this imbalance is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in Flax seed and flax seed oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. These essential fatty acids appear to be particularly important for cognitive and behavioral function as well as normal growth and development.

Uses of Flax Seed
Health Benefits of Flax Seed
Side Effects of Flax Seed