Flaxseed Oil –A Heart-Healthy Choice

The best gifts come in the smallest packages and in the case of Flaxseed this couldn’t be truer. There are two kinds of flaxseeds, one is dark brown and the other has a golden yellow color. Flaxseed oil comes from ground pressed flaxseeds, making it one of the best sources of heart healthy nutrients. Aside from its nutty flavor and delicate texture, it’s rich in dietary staples and omega-3 fatty acids which offers the body a lot benefits. These benefits range from minor health issues like bowel regulation, to major issues like cancer prevention, but more on this later.

A bonus is that flaxseed can be made easily at home and use as a seasoning to keep food fresh and add nutrients. After you have extracted the oil, you can use what is left to feed livestock – for those of you who keep chickens and other animals at home.

Traditionally, flaxseed oil has not been used a lot in food preparation. However flaxseed has been ground and used to make flour to bake pastry and many people like to have the seeds in its natural form as a snack. Brown flaxseeds are often preferred as snacks because they have a considerable amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Ground flaxseed is also used as a topping for salads and cereals and many people like to add it to fruit juices.

Now let’s jump into the good stuff!

Omega 3

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the three main types of omega 3 fatty acids. Your body converts the ALA from flaxseed oil to DHA and EPA so it can be easily absorbed by your body. Omega 3 is essential for the proper functioning of cell membranes and it’s important for intracellular communication and maintaining your overall health.flaxseed oil benefits

Flaxseed oil is like ‘medicine’ for those of you suffering from arthritis. Your body will use omega-3 from the oil to produce anti-inflammatory molecules that will help to lessen the symptoms of arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines and even asthma. Omega-3 fatty acids are also used by the body to make prostaglandins, a hormone like substance which is essential in regulating inflammation and contractions in your uterus among other functions. PG1, PG2, and PG3 are the three main types of prostaglandins.

PG1 helps to regulate different body functions and prevent blood clotting and inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce swelling and pain you may feel after getting an injury. PG2 does the complete opposite of PG1. For instance it encourages inflammation, and blood clotting. If you consume too much omega-6 fatty acid you are likely to produce excess PG2 which can be harmful. On the other hand it can be beneficial if you are injured – PG2 will help you to avoid excess blood loss. PG3 is more versatile, technically it is needed to protect you when you get an injury but it is also effective in lowering the amount of PG2 in your body.

A deficiency in omega-3 it can lead to hypertension, heart disease, poor vision, asthma and even problems remembering important information. According to findings from a research conducted by Harvard entitled “The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary Lifestyle and Metabolic Risk Factors” over 72 000 deaths in the United States are caused by a deficiency in omega-3.

Both omega 3 and omega 6 should be consumed in balance, it is impossible to decide which is more important to the body but the cold truth is that us westerners already consume too much omega 6. If omega 3 is the steering wheel, omega 6 is the brake – they both work together to achieve the best results. The omega-6 acid, linoleic acid (LA) and the omega-3 acid ALA mentioned earlier are important for growth and repair and for the production of other fatty acids. Flaxseed contains omega-6 and omega 3 fatty acids so it’s like killing two birds with one stone.

Cardiovascular Disease and High Cholesterol

Omega-3 fatty acid from flaxseed oil can help to regulate the level of triglycerides in your body. Triglycerides is a blood lipid that can increase your chances of heart disease. When you think of fat forming around your belly and hip you are thinking about triglycerides. They also help to moderate blood cholesterol levels that can also lead to cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can also hinder the creation of atherosclerotic plaques.

Omega-3 also works as a vasodilator in some ways. Vasodilators are a type of medicine that work to dilate your blood vessels. They help to keep the muscles in the walls of arteries from tightening, creating a wider path for blood to flow so you heart doesn’t have to work too hard. For these reasons, it’s perfect for treating high blood pressure and many cardiovascular conditions. Omega-3 also works as an anti-atherogenic by preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques which cause atherosclerosis.

In addition, consuming sufficient amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids can hinder the formation of blood clots by preventing blood platelets from combining. This can help to prevent life threatening conditions like a stroke. As a good source of omega-3, flaxseed is perfect for helping you to maintain a healthy heart and avoiding many of the life threatening conditions affecting Westerners.

Diabetes

It seems we just keep adding to the list of benefits that you can receive from consuming flaxseed oil. Next on our listis diabetes, a major health problem in Western societies. Considering it helps to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol it’s great for diabetic people. Individuals suffering from diabetes also experience poor blood circulation and omega-3 can also help with this by acting as a vasodilator as discussed earlier.

Nonetheless, it’s important to note that while flaxseed oil is great for diabetes, High EPA/DHA fish oil remains the best option. This is mainly because diabetic people have a lower count of delta-6-destaurase, an enzyme that is needed to convert ALA from the oil to DHA and EPA.

Depression

Studies have also shown that individuals who do not eat sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids often suffer from psychological problems such as depression. Of course consuming flaxseed oil is not enough if you suffer from severe depression. Omega-3 from the oil may help to improve the function of your brain but it’s always best to see a doctor.

We’ve covered a lot of benefits of Flaxseed oil here but there are still a lot we haven’t discussed. There are a lot of other benefits like improving the quality of your skin, hair, and promoting weight loss. The benefits of flaxseed oil are almost countless, especially for women. With that said why not make some flaxseed oil at home this month, or pick some up at the supermarket when you have the time.

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Mary Goforth

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