What Are the Benefits of Flaxseed Oil Supplements?

Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds of Linum usitatissimum, also known as the flax plant. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, flaxseed oil contains important compounds such as lignans and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid.) These ingredients are important in the healing and prevention of several medical conditions and diseases.

Heart Disease Benefits

Flaxseed oil is beneficial in the prevention of heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that the ALA in flaxseed oil is converted to an omega-3 fatty acid in the body. These fatty acids protect those who are at risk for, or who already have, heart disease by slowing the growth rate of arterial plaque (a substance that builds up on the walls of the artery). This lowers triglycerides, blood pressure, decreases inflammation and lowers the risk of irregular heartbeats. The AHA recommends taking up to 3g of ALA, or flaxseed oil supplements, per day.

Cholesterol-Lowering Benefits

A study in the June 2008 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition reports that flaxseed oil extract has been found to be beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol levels. In this study, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences concluded that it’s the lignans in the flaxseed and flaxseed oil that have cholesterol-lowering benefits. Within the same study, it was also noted that flaxseed supplementation improved fasting blood sugar levels.

Arthritis Benefits

Flaxseed oil has inflammation-reducing properties, and arthritis is a disease that’s caused by inflammation between the joints. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, flaxseed oil is used to effectively treat arthritis. A study reported by the National Institutes of Health also reports a study that shows flaxseed oil reduces the inflammation associated with arthritis and reduces inflammation of the eye surface, which can cause problems such as dry eye.

Wound-Healing Benefits

Although it’s not widely mentioned, flaxseed oil is part of a group of oils studied for their skin-healing benefits–this according to the February 27, 2009, issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The conclusion was that flaxseed oil is one of the oils that, when applied topically, speeds healing of wounds and increases collagen content in the skin. Flaxseed oil supplements are to be taken internally, but you could rub the contents of one on your skin if you have a wound that needs attention.

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper’s, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.