Flaxseed is a widely available, soluble phytoestrogenic fiber. Flaxseed oil, sometimes called linseed oil, is made from its pressed seeds and is a versatile, delicious addition to salad dressings and dips. For that extra nutrient boost, some people add it to their smoothies and shakes. There are plenty of ways to integrate flaxseed oil into any diet, and the reasons to do so are pretty compelling.
LDL cholesterol is a key player in the hardening of arteries and other forms of cardiovascular disease. LDLs have different densities and sizes, with small-density LDL more often associated with heart disease. Diets rich in flaxseed saw close to an 18 percent reduction in this LDL type, and more than a 15 percent increase in beneficial HDL levels.
Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is a hormone that contributes to baldness in men and women. Approximately 10 percent of testosterone is converted to DHT, which causes hair follicles to shrink. In an animal study, researchers found that flaxseed oil lowers DHT and increases hair length by more than 25 percent.
Chronic constipation affects almost 20 percent of the U.S. population. Studies find that flaxseed oil slackens feces, particularly in people on hemodialysis. Flax oil not only minimizes the time between bowel movements, but it also improves fecal consistency, reducing the risk of constipation.
Diabetes is a complex, multisystem condition. The ability to control blood glucose involves diet, exercise, and medications. Animal studies show that when various daily doses of flaxseed oil were administered over the course of four weeks, there was a significant decrease in serum glucose. This is probably due in part to SDG, a plant compound that inhibits diabetes development.
Some people put petroleum jelly on minor cuts to not only protect the wound but reduce dryness, which can cause itching and increase the appearance of scars. A study tested flax oil concentrations of one, five, and 10 percent. Wounds treated with the one- or five-percent concentration showed faster closure than those that only used petroleum.
Chronic dry eyes affect vision in the long term, including increasing the risk of cornea damage. People with the autoimmune disease Sjögrens syndrome, for example, are more likely to develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca, which causes drying of the conjunctiva — the essential eye membrane — sensitivity to light, and burning. Taking one to two grams of flaxseed oil daily reduces eye inflammation and provides symptom relief.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the hand is squeezed by swollen tissues, causing pain, numbness, or tingling. In a trial of one hundred people with mild to moderate carpal tunnel, results show that topical flaxseed oil reduces symptoms and improves functionality, thanks to alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, an anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
Depression causes negative thoughts, feelings, and actions to affect a person's daily life for a prolonged period. Causes include neurochemical imbalances, and diet sometimes exacerbates the condition. Flaxseed oil is rich in the essential fatty acid ALA, a precursor to the brain builder DHA. Studies show that DHA plays a role in reducing brain inflammation and has potent antidepressant characteristics.
Ulcerative colitis is a painful, life-threatening gastrointestinal disease that causes sores in the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum. In an animal study using various doses of flax oil over six weeks, results show the oil reduces colon cell damage and leads to less disease activity.
Estrogen-receptor or ER-negative cancer cells don’t rely on estrogen or progesterone for growth nor respond to treatments that block those hormones. This cancer tends to grow quickly, making it particularly deadly. Various dose combinations of flaxseed oil and its lignan, SDG, increase cancer cell apoptosis or programmed cell death and lead to lower rates of metastasis to lungs — between 16 and 70% — and 52% in distant lymph nodes.
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