How to Use Flaxseed Oil for Health Benefits

Updated on September 20, 2017
There is some evidence flax seed oil, an antioxidant, may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Plus, the Omega in flaxseed is essential to brain function in children and adults.
There is some evidence flax seed oil, an antioxidant, may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Plus, the Omega in flaxseed is essential to brain function in children and adults. | Source
Flax Flowers
Flax Flowers | Source

What is Flax Seed?


  • Flax Seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Common Flax
  • Linseed

Plant Species:

  • Linum usitatissimum


  • Brown
  • Yellow or Golden

Flax capsules on the flax plant. (Linum usitatissimum capsules, vlas zaadbollen) The capsule contains the flax seed.
Flax capsules on the flax plant. (Linum usitatissimum capsules, vlas zaadbollen) The capsule contains the flax seed. | Source

Where does flaxseed come from?

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A markerEgypt -
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Flax was cultivated in ancient Egypt

B markerIndia -
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Flax is native to India and other Mediterranean areas.

Where does Flax Seed Come From?

Where is flaxseed cultivated and harvested?

Native Regions:

  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • India

Flax seed comes from the annual, flax plant. The flax seeds can be found in the pods (also called capsules) of the flax plant. The flax plant also features blue five petaled flowers.

Flax was cultivated in ancient Egypt and used to create fibers. These fibers were also dyed and have been found in prehistoric caves. Historians have documented the cultivation of flaxseed as early as 3000 BC.

Flax Seed Oil Benefits

There is some evidence flax seed oil may help reduce your risk of

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • stroke
  • diabetes

There is also evidence that flax seed oil may improve

  • mood
  • clarity
  • awareness

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, good fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber

Fatty Acids in Flax: Omega 3

There are two types of fatty acid that are considered essential for the human body. These are known as Omega-3 and Omega-6. These particular fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body. This is to say, the body does not naturally produce these fatty acids and they must be obtained through our diet.

Vegetable oils are high in Omega-6 acids and flaxseed oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, flaxseed oil is high in ALA - alpha-linolenic acid.

Examples of Omega-3 rich foods

  • fish oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • salmon
  • walnuts
  • tuna
  • canola oil

How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Help Improve Brain Function

First, a bit of vocabulary.

EFA: the chief component in the membrane that surrounds the cells of the human body.

Phospholipids: the part of the EFA's that determine the fluidity and integrity of the cell membrane.

For the most part it is obvious that the average American diet consists of unhealthy fast foods and processed meals. These foods contain high levels of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat. This includes beef, dairy and hydrogenated oils. The negative effect of these foods lies in the cell membrane. These unhealthy foods cause the cell membrane to become stiff and somewhat rigid. So what does this mean? Unhealthy foods break down the integrity and fluidity of the cell by directly affecting the EFA's and phospholipids of the cell.

Nerve cell function is a vital and dependent of membrane fluidity. Nerve function in the brain affects a complex blend of actions and reactions. This includes behavior, mood and mental function. If the cell membrane is negatively affected by being stiff it is plain to see how it would cause a negative outcome in these functions.

Therefore, if we eat a diet rich in unhealthy fats and hydrogenated oils it will impair the nerve function in the brain. However, if we eat a diet rich in healthy fatty acids the membrane will be fluid and receptive to positive nerve functions.

Children and Fatty Acids

Researchers have been able to connect the deficiency of fatty acids with behavioral problems during childhood. Particularly in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Who doesn't want a well behaved child that is bright and well adjusted? Today's rushed life and unhealthy meals may be playing a more negative role in meeting this goal than one might consider. The fact is that unhealthy fats in processed and prepackaged foods create a stiff and rigid cell. Furthermore, these cells are then challenged at participating in effective nerve function in the brain. Consider the various functions of the brain. This includes mood, clarity and awareness. Now consider how these functions might affect behavior and academic development.

Not all children may be deficient in Omega-3. A parent should assess the nutritional intake of their children and possibly seek the advice of a nutritionist. A balanced and healthy diet can greatly improve ones behavior and clarity.

Parents of children with behavioral and focus issues may want to consider adopting an Omega-3 rich diet.

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is essential for the development of the brain in infants and normal brain function in adults.
  • ALA (alpha linolenic acid) is essential in producing energy and is also an antioxidant.

Flax and Cancer

Recent studies of flaxseed are showing positive results against various forms of cancers. Cancers that have already been identified in various flaxseed studies include breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

The three components of flaxseed showing positive effects are:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • ALA
  • Lignans

Results show flaxseed terminated and inhibited tumor growth in animal studies. Also, the consumption of lignans by adolescents may inhibit breast cancer risk through adulthood.

Flax and Cardiovascular Disease

There have been positive research studies on the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed in particular has been found to reduce blood pressure. Studies suggest this may be due to the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids. Both of these acids are found in flaxseed.

Additional benefits include:

  • Prevention of the hardening of arteries (arteriosclerosis)
  • Lignans in flaxseed reduce plaque build-up
  • May improves irregular heart beat (initial studies show promising results)
  • Reduction of bad cholesterol (LDL)

Flax and Diabetes

Research studies suggest the daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may slightly improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. Additional research is pending.

References and Links

Health effects with consumption of the flax lignan: October 2009, British Journal of Nutrition

  • reducing lipid and glucose concentrations, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation

  • Flax lignans may also reduce cancer risk by preventing pre-cancerous cellular changes and by redu- cing angiogenesis and metastasis

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficulties: August 2011, Journal of Child Health Care

  • Supplementation with flax oil and vitamin C improves the outcome of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares


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      • philipariel profile image

        Philip Verghese Ariel 4 years ago from Secunderabad, Telangana

        Great info. here.

        Indeed this is very post is an educative one, i just came to know about flax seed and its medicinal properties from one of my friends and a further search I found this and I got it what i want. Thanks for this share. Keep informed.

        Best regards

        Philip Ariel

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        AudreyHowitt, I bet that is one great tasting salad! Thank you for reading and commenting.

        Pamela99, thank you so very much. Feels great to know this was informative, thank you for the votes.

        cclitgirl, hey there! Hmmmm, I guess I should buy some seeds. I try to keep the oil on hand for salads and smoothies. Always glad to see you, thanks.

        nybride710, how is the high fiber diet working out? I have to blend the oil in with dressing or a smoothie. I've gotten sorta used to the flavor. Thank you for reading.

        Vellur, it sure does. I hope you are able to reap the benefits. Glad to share my research with you.

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

        Flax seed has great benefits. I have never included flax seeds in my diet. I will start now after reading your hub. Thanks for sharing.

      • nybride710 profile image

        Lisa Kroulik 5 years ago from Minnesota

        My doctor just put me on a high fiber diet and it so easy to add flax to almost anything. I really don't taste it and I can easily meet my fiber requirements.

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

        I keep a bag of flax seed ready to sprinkle on my breakfast foods especially. :) Awesome hub and I had no idea that linseed is another name for flaxseed...and it's interesting about its connection to things like ADD. Voted up and shared.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

        This is an excellent hub. I take flax seed every day but I still learned several things from your hub. Voted up and awesome.

      • AudreyHowitt profile image

        Audrey Howitt 5 years ago from California

        Just an excellent hub--and I just bought some to put in my salads!

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        ccligirl, you are right, it does have somewhat of a nutty flavor when blended with certain foods and cereals. Thanks so much for your comment and for reading. Cheers to you and glad to keep it heart healthy with great friends like you!

        PurvisBobbi44, you are quite welcome and thank you! Your comment warmed my heart! Hub Hugs!

        Feddleman, yes you do! :)

        mvillecat, interesting testimony...about giving it to your dogs. good to know. Thanks for reading and sharing.

        juicingforhealth, it sure does to be that way, doesn't it?

      • juicingforhealth profile image

        juicingforhealth 5 years ago from Spain

        Very interesting article. The natural world is full of great "home remedies" that we have largely forgotten (or been made to forget by large pharmaceutical companies).

      • mvillecat profile image

        Catherine Dean 5 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

        We like Flaxseed oil in our home too. I give it to my dogs as well to improve their health. Great Hub.

      • profile image

        Fiddleman 5 years ago

        Very informative hub, got to get me some of that flax seed.

      • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

        PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida


        Thank you for this great hub and for the smoothie recipe, and I will certainly try it. You have such informative hubs to help us in so many way from tips on blogs to being healthy. You are the greatest in helping Hubbers, I thank you.

        I will also try it on other food to test the taste.

        Your Hub Friend,

        Bobbi Purvis

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

        I regularly put flax seeds on my oatmeal, in smoothies, on grapefruit and even my french toast. I love the nutty flavor they have. Not only that, I love that they help prevent heart disease - something which really runs in my family - not so good. Beautiful, informative hub. Voted up!

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        Neil Sperling, yes it is. Thanks for the wonderful comment and compliment. Glad to see you.

      • Neil Sperling profile image

        Neil Sperling 5 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

        Good stuff - Thanks for a well written researched hub!

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        CarlySullens, Thank you! How sweet of you to say so. I know exactly how you feel. It is easy to forget what we have stored in our cupboards, pantry and freezer when it is not right out in the open. Great job on adding it to your smoothie. I try to add it to my smoothies with flax oil. Thanks for stopping by to read, comment and share. I appreciate the votes too. :)

      • CarlySullens profile image

        CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

        Love your hubs! You give the understanding to knowledge. I have flax seed in my freezer but always forget to scoop some on my yogurt etc. I finally bought some natural peanut butter with flax seed, and it is so yummy. I have a teaspoon a day, mostly in my morning smoothie. Voted Up.

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        Deborah, Feel free to e-mail the LINK to this hub - thank you so much for sharing. I'm glad you have found it useful and worth sharing.

      • profile image

        deborah 5 years ago

        can i send this or forward this what is flaxseed oil for n flaxseed oil benefits to my sister email can u pls give me a say8ign email tha tuc an send to other people.


      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        Kaili, thank you! Yes, we really should. I appreciate the read, the votes and the comments. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Kaili Bisson profile image

        Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

        Voted up and more! Everyone should be adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diets.

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        HawaiiHeart - great use of flax seeds, I'm sure they taste great in yogurt and cereal. I make quite a bit of smoothies during the warmer months and flax oil is easy to blend in.

        Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I'm glad you found this hub to be informative. To your health - cheers! :)

      • HawaiiHeart profile image

        HawaiiHeart 5 years ago from Hawaii

        I've used flaxseed for a while now on yogurts and cereals, but only recently started to use flaxseed oil. Very informative hub for those who are not very familiar with flaxseed and its benefits!

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

        28 wonderful responses, WOW - thank you! How can I ever begin to personally respond to each of you? Please know that I do appreciate all of you for taking the time to read and comment. It is greatly appreciated. I'm truly feeling blessed!

        I'm glad to see so many of you have reaped the benefits of flaxseed oil. I'm also pleased to see many that are inspired to give it a try. Continued best wishes to all! Cheers!

      • Patsybell profile image

        Patsy Bell Hobson 5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

        voted up and shared. Great piece.

      • Deborah Brooks profile image

        Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

        Flax seed oil is great.. I use it all the time. great Hub ms Olive

        voted up


      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        Hi Marisa. A very well written and equally well presented hub on the amazing benefits of flax seed and its oil.

        I remember when as kids we used to apply several coats of flaxseed oil on our cricket bats - it helped make the wood stronger and preventing chipping while playing. This knocking in of the wooden bats was a regular feature, it being done till the wood could not absorb any more of the oil.

        However, I have not used it as a health routine.

        After reading your hub I feel like using it too.

        Voted up, interesting and useful.

      • Global-Chica profile image

        Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

        My dad is a bit of a health freak and growing up, he always made salad dressing from flax seed oil which I wasn't crazy about. I'm glad to hear that it's so beneficial and perhaps I'll make my own dressing using flaxseed :) Thanks for the great hub!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

        You have posted another fabulous hub on such a useful topic. I would never have guessed they came from a flower -- and a very pretty one at that. Interesting hub topic and thanks for the information.

      • emilybee profile image

        emilybee 5 years ago

        I just had my first dose of flaxseed this morning in my oatmeal :) Awesome hub on benefits of flax seed.

      • europewalker profile image

        europewalker 5 years ago

        Interesting hub, I didn't know much about flax seed and it's benefits. Thanks for sharing :)

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

        Yum! I LOVE flaxseed. Now, after seeing the flowers, I'm going to try to grow it this year. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

      • anusujith profile image

        Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

        In India Flax seed is plenty. and I like it too.

      • LadyLyell profile image

        LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

        Very informative hub, thanks.

        I really must start taking this advise seriously.

      • Patsybell profile image

        Patsy Bell Hobson 5 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

        Good to know. Thanks for sharing.

      • breakfastpop profile image

        breakfastpop 5 years ago

        I am running out to buy some now. Thanks!

      • editorsupremo profile image

        editorsupremo 5 years ago from London, England

        Flax seed is indeed a very powerful, natural source that helps many ailments. As well as the oil use of the flax seed is also beneficial and has been used in studies in the prevention of breast cancer.

        Good hub. Voted up

      • Ivona Poyntz profile image

        Ivona Poyntz 5 years ago from UK

        Really useful info. I take fish oil, but it seems like Flax seed might give me more benfits than just omega 3

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

        A super review of the benefits of flax seed oil. Concise and easy to read, this hub should help a lot of people understand the need to include flax seed in their diets. I would like to link this hub to mine on using flax seed to replace eggs in recipes if you have no objection. Thanks for a great reference hub!

      • jasmith1 profile image

        Adrian Smith 5 years ago from UK

        Really interesting hub - it is good to learn more about flaxseed. I have been a fan of it for a while - it has so many benefits.

      • thougtforce profile image

        Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

        Fantastic hub and so much interesting information! I remember that we used to serve flaxseed at breakfast in the hospital where I worked many years ago, because it was good for the stomach after surgery. And now I know that flaxseed is great in many other ways too. Voted up and shared!


      • diogenes profile image

        diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

        Hardly ever used it, but will now. Great informative article of use to all.


      • sandrabusby profile image

        Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

        One of my favorite supplements. Thanks, MissOlive, for writing such a comprehensive hub on flax seed oil and its benefits. High lignan flax seed oil is also a specific against breast cancer.

      • Georgina_writes profile image

        Georgina_writes 5 years ago from Dartmoor

        Great hub, with lots of information. I have a really nice smoothie recipe using linseed/flax seed, and I love to see fields of it growing in the countryside. Rating up.

      • taw2012 profile image

        taw2012 5 years ago from India

        this hub is informative. You have made it interesting with good pictures.

      • creativelycc profile image

        Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

        Excellent information, you covered all the important points about Flax. You gave thorough information on the history and health benefits of this natural resource. I could never say enough good things about flax, it is so good for you. I take a tablespoon of it in oil form every day and make a hair gel out of it. Thank you!

      • RealHousewife profile image

        Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        Beautiful! This is super interesting. I didn't know flax sees and linseed were the same or where it came from. Didn't know it was so good for you either! Up and everything!

      • stephhicks68 profile image

        Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

        Very interesting! I have heard a lot about flax seed oil and quite happy to read your great hub on the topic. Rated up!

      • profile image

        Olde Cashmere 5 years ago

        Super informative hub. I love how the ancient civilizations used it for such interesting purposes. After reading the health benefits Flax see oil contains, I'm going to have to add it to my diet, sounds extremely healthy. Excellent writing. Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting (:

      • Victoria Lynn profile image

        Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

        This is awesome! I've heard that flaxseed is very valuable.I enjoyed reading about the different benefits. Way to go, MissOlive! Sharing this one! Many votes!

      • Rusticliving profile image

        Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

        Fabulous Hub MissOlive! I love my flaxseed! I use it a lot! I'm happy to see a hub about it. Your Hub is beautiful! Voted up across and shared! Lisa :)