Flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil, is derived from flax seeds. Both flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed serve as nutritional supplements. Although ground flaxseed offers additional health benefits over flaxseed oil, flaxseed oil alone supplies heart-healthy fatty acids that may decrease your risk of cardiovascular issues. Flaxseed oil is available as a liquid or in pill form. As with any nutritional supplement, consult with your health-care provider prior to adding flaxseed oil pills to your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flaxseed oil contains abundant alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid precursor to omega-3 fatty acids. In your body, omega-3 fatty acids produce an anti-inflammatory effect, while omega-6 fatty acids work as pro-inflammatory molecules. Maintaining a balance of two to four omega-3 fatty acids for each omega-6 fatty acid in your diet helps keep your immune system functioning optimally, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, the diet of many Americans is skewed so that omega-6 fatty acids outnumber omega-3 fatty acids by a margin of approximately 20 to 1, which may account for the rise in inflammatory disease in the United States. Taking flaxseed oil can push your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio to a healthier level.
Fish oils are another rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Because the omega-3s in fish oils reduce inflammation and help decrease the incidence of heart disease, flaxseed oil pills may function in a similar manner. Although evidence is lacking to prove the beneficial effects of flaxseed oil taken as a dietary supplement, a diet rich in ALA-containing foods helps prevent and treat conditions affecting your cardiovascular system. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that foods rich in omega-3s may lower your blood pressure and help make your platelets less sticky, and therefore less likely to form harmful spontaneous blood clots.
An autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s syndrome causes your body to attack your moisture-producing glands. Flaxseed oil pills may help alleviate the dry eyes commonly associated with this health issue.
Flaxseed oil pills may affect how certain medications function in your body, either by amplifying their effect or inhibiting the drug. These medications include anticoagulants, drugs to lower your blood sugar or your cholesterol, cyclosporine and some topical steroids. Additionally, flaxseed oil pills may interfere with the absorption of some nutrients. Avoid flaxseed oil pills if you are allergic to any flax product.
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