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The Health Benefits of Flaxseed


By Staff Writer

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Flax Seeds

Flaxseed, the seed of the flax plant, is historically used as a source of fiber. It’s available in powder, oil and capsule form. Flaxseed oil (also known as linseed oil) comes from the seeds of the flax plant. Linseed oil is the denatured form of flaxseed oil and is not fit for human consumption. Flaxseed oil contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), which may offer some benefit in lowering cholesterol, decreasing platelet aggregation, insulin resistance, reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Limited studies in humans and animals have suggested that flaxseed may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. However, more study is needed to determine whether flaxseed is helpful in cancer prevention. Some studies have found that flaxseed oil can lower serum cholesterol levels, but other studies have found no benefit. One study found that fish oil worked better than flaxseed at reducing cholesterol levels. Flaxseed powder can be used as a fiber laxative, but it may interfere with the absorption of other medicines. If you take flaxseed powder, it should be at least one hour before or two hours after taking other medicines. Flaxseed, like many other fiber supplements, causes a feeling of fullness. The feeling of fullness may help some people with weight loss.

Sources: Integrative Medicine Access. Integrative Medicine Communications, 1999. Micromedex® Healthcare Series. Thomson Micromedex, 2006.Peirce, A. The American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. William Morrow & Co., 1999. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Pharmacists Letter Inc., 2001.The Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons, 2006.This answer prepared 6/7/2001.This information updated 2/6/2007.

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