Flaxseed: General Info

What is flaxseed? 

Flaxseed is a plant-based supplement that is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon. ALA is also found in walnuts, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds. Many vegetarians use flaxseed supplements because they do not eat fish. Flaxseed supplements include flaxseeds themselves, which must be freshly ground for the most benefits, or flaxseed oil -- both of which are added to food sprinkled over yogurt or used to make salad dressing. Flaxseed oil is perishable and must be stored in the refrigerator, as it loses its nutritional benefits if it is heated.

Flaxseed is considered a good fat

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are considered to be “good” fats that are essential for the body’s physiological functioning. Another “good” fat is omega-6. The correct balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids -- approximately two to one, respectively -- is the key to maintaining a healthy body. However, most people in the United States consume more foods containing omega-6 fatty acids than foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in corn and soybean oils. The easiest way to restore this delicate balance is to take flaxseed supplements either in the form of ground seeds or flaxseed oil.

Is Flaxseed good for your health?

Flaxseed is beneficial for a healthy heart and circulatory system, as well as in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease such as stroke and high blood pressure, increasing the elasticity of the blood vessels, and lowering cholesterol. The omega-3 fatty acids converted form ALA in flax seeds may also help to prevent some types of cancer. Flaxseeds are among the few supplements (iron, calcium, and folic acid are some others) that are recommended in addition to maintaining a healthy diet. Flaxseed oil is available in capsule form as well as in a bottle. The recommended dosage for adults is 50 grams per day of ground flaxseed, or 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day.

For further information on the whether flaxseed can prevent cancer see the following article from TheDiet Channel: Flaxseed: Does It Benefit Cancer Patients.