Flaxseed oil is the richest oil in omega 3 fatty acids, with recognized anti-inflammatory properties. Let’s discover the properties and benefits of linseed oil.
Linseed oil is a highly valued oil obtained from the cold pressing of flax seeds. Flax seeds are the seeds of flax, a herbaceous plant of the Linaceae family, perennial and spontaneous, which is now grown in different parts of the world.
This plant has very ancient origins and seems to have been used as early as 30,000 years ago. In fact, from linen, as well as products for food use, paper, fabrics and ropes are produced. Flax seeds have long been known for their emulsifying and regularizing properties of the intestine, thanks to their high fiber content and high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 and omega 6 series.
Likewise, the oil obtained from these seeds contains a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids. To underline the high content of omega 3, which is greater than the content of omega 6: linseed oil can therefore be an aid to find the balance between omega 6 and omega 3, which is currently always too much in favor of omega 6 due to incorrect eating habits.
Linseed oil: characteristics and nutritional values
As we have anticipated, linseed oil is an oil very rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which give this product most of its properties. It should be emphasized that the omega 3 fatty acids present in linen are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), while our body mainly uses DHA and EPA.
It is estimated that only a small part of ALA can be converted into the fatty acids of the omega 3 series that our body can use. Being an oil it is easy to assume that it is not advisable to abuse it, but it is worth introducing a small amount, even daily, in order to cover our needs for these nutrients.
Nutritional values for 100 g of linseed oil:
- Kcalories: 884 kcal
- Waterfall: 0.12 gr
- Proteins: 0.11 gr
- Fat: 99.98 gr
- Carbohydrates: 0 gr
- Of which simple sugars: 0 gr
- Fiber: 0 gr
- Vitamin E: 0.47 mg
- Vitamin K: 9.3 ug
- Total polyunsaturated fatty acids: 67.849 g
Flaxseed oil: nutritional properties
As can be seen from the summary table, flaxseed oil is characterized by a high fat content and contains a small amount of other substances such as vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Vitamin E: the recommended daily intake according to the LARN is about 12-13 mg and 100 grams of linseed oil contain 0.47. Considering that the recommended dose per day is much less than 100 g, it is easy to understand that the intake of vitamin E is not high. However, it allows us to increase the dose taken and vitamin E contributes to the anti-inflammatory properties of linseed oil thanks to its antioxidant property against free radicals;
- Vitamin K: in this case, 100 g of flaxseed oil contains more than 6% of the recommended daily dose. Again this is not a huge amount, but a useful one. Vitamin K, in fact, is essential for blood clotting and for our bone metabolism.
Flaxseed oil: health benefits
Given the premises, it should come as no surprise that the main property of flaxseed oil is its anti-inflammatory . Before citing the studies and conclusions of the most recent research, however, we would like to open a premise on the function of omega 3 and omega 6. Both of these classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids are defined as essential: our body needs these molecules but is in no way able to produce them by itself. So the only source remains the diet!
From the fatty acids of the omega 3 series derive molecules with anti-inflammatory activity and from the omega 6 fatty acids can derive molecules with both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory action. Obviously we are fine when there is a balance between the molecules that turn off and the molecules that ignite the inflammation and therefore it is important that a good ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 is respected.
The western and modern diet, rich in processed and industrial foods, guarantees a much higher intake of omega 6. It is therefore important to pay attention to this delicate balance to avoid an excess of inflammatory molecules. To deepen the question further, we invite you to read the following article: Omega-3 and Omega-6: what they are for and how to integrate them correctly. In the meantime, we introduce you to the scientifically proven properties of flaxseed oil.
✓ Reduction of inflammation and cardiovascular pathologies
We know that cardiovascular disease is one of the main killers of our millennium, killing millions of people every year. Inflammation is estimated to be a key factor in the genesis of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, the anti- inflammatory properties of alpha-linolenic acid are known and supplementation with flaxseed derivatives has been shown to reduce inflammation in obese individuals. The same effect was not seen in this meta -analysis in normal weight individuals, possibly due to the poor conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA.
✓ Protective effect against diabetes
The high omega 3 content also offers protection against type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this sense, however, a greater effect is for the seeds, which also contain a high amount of fiber.
✓ Protective effect against oncological pathologies
A protective effect was also seen against some oncological pathologies, such as that of the colon and breast. The effect appears to be due to the mild estrogenic activity of ALAs.
✓ Linseed oil for beauty
Flaxseed oil can also be used to nourish the skin and hair! In fact, it gives shine, elasticity and greater resistance.
Flaxseed oil: some usage tips
Linseed oil must be chosen with particular attention: only evaluate cold-pressed products because only in this way will you be sure of having an oil with unchanged properties. It can be used in small quantities instead of the more common olive oil. Alternatively, to reach a correct intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is possible to insert the consumption of 1 teaspoon of this precious oil before one of the main meals.
But be careful not to always replace olive oil with linseed oil: the two oils have very different compositions and our guidelines advise us to consume a greater quantity of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) than polyunsaturated fatty acids and saturated.
You can therefore use it to dress salads, vegetables, but also other ready-made dishes such as meat and fish, but be careful: linseed oil must be consumed raw so as not to alter its organoleptic properties, so it must not be used to cook food. and its use is also not recommended for preserving food in oil. A flaxseed oil breakfast idea? Add a tablespoon or two to a bowl of yogurt and granola.
In addition, linseed oil must be stored properly to preserve its properties. As you will have understood, it is an extremely delicate product: it must be kept at a temperature below 4 ° C, therefore in the refrigerator. In addition to heat, it is very sensitive to light and air; the package, therefore, must be dark in color, preferably in glass, and closed very well after each use.
It can be stored like this for about 30 days; after this period it is no longer advisable to use it in food, but do not throw it away, linseed oil has a thousand other uses: it can be used on the skin, on the hair, to polish furniture and even as a base to create a repellent oil against insects.
Linseed oil is not very tasty, its aroma is reminiscent of walnuts, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. When it takes on an unpleasant taste, it means that it is rancid and should no longer be used for food purposes.
Linseed oil: contraindications and potential negative effects
Flaxseed oil, if stored properly, has no particular contraindications. But beware of abuse: it is an oil and should be used as such. A diet that is too high in fat, in fact, can worsen our health and cause obesity.