Muhammad Zubair and Dr. Maqbool Ahmad University of Agriculture Faisalabad.
It is also known as linseed oil, comes from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum, L.). It is a blue flowering plant that is extensively used for its oil rich seeds. This natural oil is highly recommended for the general well being and whole body nutrition and is considered to be nature’s richest source of omega-3 fatty acids that are required for the health of almost all body systems. The oil is a very good way to get your omega 3s, especially if you are allergic to seafood. People use flaxseed oil for many different ailments and can be a great addition to a diet. The oil has a nutty flavor and enhances a salad dressing but you shouldn’t use it to cook since the heat changes the healthy fat into toxic fat that causes harm. Instead, most people find that adding the oil to a dish that’s already cooked can enhance the flavor and add many beneficial nutrients to the diet.
Nutritive Value of Flax
Flaxseed oil contains a number of vitamins such as B1, B2, C, E and carotene, a form of vitamin A. The oil also contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, zinc, iron and trace minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and calcium in addition to being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that promotes heart health. Flaxseed oil provides approximately 50 – 60% omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Getting a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is important. These essential fats are both examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while many omega-6 fatty acids tend to contribute to inflammation. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 – 4 times fewer omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.
Uses of Linseed oil
Some nutritionists, researchers, and scientists believe that it could be the most important health-promoting supplement next to a multi-vitamin. Nearly every system in the body can benefit from flax seed oil’s natural properties, including the cardiovascular system, immune system, circulatory system, reproductive system, nervous system, as well as joints. Just look at this list of facts and studies of what Flax Seed Oil can and may accomplish:
• Flaxseed — but not flaxseed oil — contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in the prevention of cancer. Research shows low incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in populations that have high amounts of lignan in their diet. Flax is 100 times richer in lignan than most whole grains. However, researchers discovered that flaxseed oil prevented breast tumor growth, likely through ALA content.
• Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and prevent clots in arteries, which may result in strokes, heart attacks and thromboses.
• Evidence suggests that people who eat an ALA rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. ALA may reduce heart disease risks through a variety of ways, including making platelets less “sticky,” reducing inflammation, promoting blood vessel health, and reducing risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).
• Flaxseed oil also helps protect the body against high blood pressure, inflammation, water retention, sticky platelets and lowered immune function.
• It shortens recovery time for fatigued muscles after exertion.
• It increases the body’s production of energy and also increases stamina.
• It accelerates the healing of sprains and bruises.
• Flax seed oil improves the absorption of Calcium.
• It can improve eyesight and perception of colors.
• It can often improve the function of the liver.
• It can relieve the side effects and stop development of many forms of cancer.
• It can relieve some cases of Asthma.
• It is helpful in the treatment of Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dandruff.
• It can relieve the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
• It can relieve the symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus.
• It can alleviate some allergies.
• It helps prevent Atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels, especially the large and medium-sized arteries, that many people experience during the aging process). Flax seed oil lowers high blood pressure in Hypertension sufferers (Conners, 2000; Thompson et al., 2004).
• Pregnancy could then be improved by feeding whole flaxseed, a source of omega 3 fatty acids as a result of its effects on different factors such as plasma progesterone concentrations and size of the CL. omega 3 fatty acids contained in FLA could have reduced the sensitivity of the CL to PGF2a or reduced the uterine concentration of PGF2a that delayed the completion of functional luteolysis, resulting in a supplementary anti-luteolytic effect. Suppression of PGF2a concentration and maintenance of the CL are obligatory steps for establishment of pregnancy of cows (Thatcher et al.,1997)
• It can relieve some cases of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) in females.
• Including flaxseed in the ration of dairy cows increased the diameter of the ovulatory follicle and reduced pregnancy losses and better Conception Rates.
The dietary essential fatty acids common to Flax Seed Oil are converted by the body to Prostaglandin’s (a hormone like substance) which are important for regulating the following:
• Steroid production and hormone synthesis, pressure in joints, blood vessels and the eye, blood clotting
• ability, water retention, inflammation pain, nerve transmission.
Unfortunately, our current diets do not come close to meeting our daily EFA (essential fatty acids) requirements. The richest sources of EFAs such as flax seeds, cold-water fish, and soy and canola oils are rarely found in our regular meals. In addition, more typical foods like red meats and egg yolks can actually encourage the body’s production of bad prostaglandins. Flax Seed oil can help restore the body’s natural balance of good and bad prostaglandins.
How to Take It
Human: There’s no recommended dose for flaxseed oil. The best dose for you depends on a number of factors and should be determined in consultation with your physician. Flaxseed oil: Take 1 – 2 tablespoonfuls daily, or 1 – 2 capsules daily. Flaxseed oil is often used in a liquid form, which contains approximately 7 grams of ALA per 15 mL (1 tbsp), and contains about 130 calories. The recommended daily dose for most people is at least 1,000 mg taken one to three times daily. Even better is adding flax seeds into your diet in breads, muffins or on salads. Scientific studies have used up to 30 grams of flax seeds a day safely and without side effects.
Animals: It is used orally in the treatment of gastro problems at the dose 15 grams per cattle or horse and 7.5 grams per sheep and goats. It is also used as laxative in horses.
When taken at reasonable doses, flaxseed oil is unlikely to cause side effects. For most people, any side effects that occur are usually just bothersome. However, flaxseed oil can theoretically cause serious side effects as well, especially at high doses.If you take more than 30 grams of flaxseed oil (about two tablespoonfuls a day), you might experience diarrhea or loose stools. Allergic reactions have occurred while taking flaxseed oil.Flaxseed oil is obtained from flaxseed, but does not cause all of the bothersome flaxseed side effects. Flaxseeds (which have a high fiber content) often cause gas and bloating. Flaxseed oil (which does not contain fiber) is not likely to cause such side effects. Theoretically, high doses of flaxseed oil could increase the risk of bleeding. This is especially important for people who are already at risk for bleeding, such as those with a bleeding disorder. Immature flaxseed pods can cause poisoning. Uncooked flaxseed also contains very small amounts of cyanide compounds, especially when consumed raw. Heat, especially on dry flaxseeds, breaks these compounds down. (However, our bodies have a capacity to neutralize a certain amount of these compounds, and the U.S. government agencies say that 2 tablespoons of flaxseed (~3 T of flax meal) is certainly safe and is probably an “effective dose” for health purposes. Various researchers who have used up to 6 daily tablespoons of the seed in different studies indicate that the amount they were using was safe.) If you want to reap the benefits of flaxseed without the risk of toxicity, consider using flax or linseed oil. Once flaxseed is pressed into oil, the cyanogenic glycosides become inactive.
Flax can serve as a useful source of nutrients for many classes of livestock. It is high in protein and an excellent source of energy and essential fatty acids. Flax also can be used to fortify foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that including flax in livestock diets increases the level of ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid,in the resultant meat, milk
Thatcher WW, Binelli M, Burke JM, Staples CR, Ambrose JD, Coelho S. Antiluteolytic signals between conceptus and endometrium. Theriogenology 1997;47:131–40.
Conners, W. E. 2000. Importance of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71: 171S-175S.
Thompson, L. U., J. Chen, E. Hui, J. Mann, and T. Ip. 2004. Interactive effects of flaxseed and tamoxifen on human breast cancer. Proc. 60th Flax Institute, March 17-19, 2004, Fargo, N.D. pp 86-90.