Flaxseed oil is a commonly used edible oil abroad and is slowly gaining more popularity in India. Flaxseed oil, also known as Linseed oil, is a clear or golden-yellow oil extracted directly from grounded and pressed seeds of the flax plant.
The Latin name for flaxseed is Linum usitassimum, which translates to ‘very useful.’ Indeed, flaxseed is extremely beneficial in terms of health. In this article, we will look at the nutritional benefits and uses of flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed contains 9% moisture, 20% protein, 34% fats, and 36% carbohydrates. There are two varieties of flaxseed: golden yellow and reddish-brown – both with similar nutritional values. Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contain considerable amounts of manganese, fibre, magnesium, folate, six B Vitamins, copper, selenium, and phosphorus.
The most benefits to your health come from the polyunsaturated alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans present in flaxseed. Given its exceptional nutrient profile, it’s no surprise that flaxseed oil is packed with various health benefits.
Flaxseed contains the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids in plants. Due to their unique properties, flaxseed and flaxseed oil are of great benefit in diseases like asthma, osteoarthritis, hemiplegia, and osteoporosis. They are also used in the treatment of a variety of bone diseases.
According to the findings of medical research on flaxseed, it reduces the level of total cholesterol as well as the level of destructive (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed also reduce the chances of blood clots, bringing down the likelihood of heart attack. Regular consumption of flaxseed also helps in preventing high blood pressure.
The cells in our body are constantly absorbing nutrition and excreting metabolic waste. The cell membranes require elasticity for this, which is reduced in diabetic patients. Since flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, its regular intake helps in maintaining good elasticity in the cells. Flaxseeds are also rich in fibre and good for constipation. The soluble fibres in flaxseed also help manage blood sugar levels. Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed and flaxseed oil protect cells from free radicals, thus helping prevent colon cancer and prostate cancer in men. Flaxseeds, which are high in lignans, cause the body to produce estrogen-like hormones. They not only decrease the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women but also alleviate the symptoms of menopause. It is also effective in reducing the occurrence of hot flashes.
Also, check out Benefits of Adding Walnut and Walnut Oil to your Diet
Common Uses of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops and has been used by humans for thousands of years, dating back to the Late Stone Age. It was first domesticated in Mesopotamia in West Asia around 9000 years ago, and archaeological excavations in India have uncovered flax seeds from 1400 to 1200 BC.
One of the best things about flaxseed oil is its multipurpose nature. From food to painting, this heart-healthy and versatile oil has a variety of applications.
Adding flaxseed to your regular diet is an excellent way to protect your health. You can add flaxseed and its oil to chutneys, dips, sauces, salad dressings, smoothies, shakes, etc., and use it as an egg substitute in baking. However, you should note that flaxseed oil is not suitable for cooking as it has a low smoke point.
A major concern about flaxseed oil is that cold-pressed flaxseed oil can quickly get oxidized and turn rancid, giving off a foul odour. It needs to be stored in the refrigerator at all times. Even in a cool place, it does not have a very long shelf life. It also reacts quickly to light and heat, so it’s generally packed in an opaque bottle for protection.
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil offer plenty of benefits, but apart from being a part of your kitchen, they have a lot of other uses too.
Due to certain chemicals present in flaxseed oil, it reacts to the oxygen in the air. It causes polymerization to take place, turning the oil into a dry and hard substance. This substance is water-repellent (hydrophobic), which makes it viable for various purposes. Chalk powder is mixed with flaxseed oil to create a traditional putty that is used as a paintable sealant for glass windows. Flaxseed oil, or Linseed oil, is also used extensively for oil painting, delivering a glossy finish. It is also used for polishing wooden objects and as a wood finish. Cricket bats are also given a protective coating with linseed oil. It is also applied as a coating on wooden-surface instruments such as guitars and mandolins.
This oil is also used to hold wood sawdust, cork particles, etc., together to make linoleum. Stand oil is also made using flaxseed oil. Flax fibres are also used to create linen.
Flaxseed and Flaxseed oil are both excellent sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is a nutritional powerhouse, recognized for its massive benefits to heart health, bone health, and others. Incorporating cold-pressed flaxseed oil into your daily diet will be a great way to gain the maximum health benefits from flaxseed.