Flax seed oil (also known as linseed oil) is extracted from flax seeds. It has a delicate, nutty flavor and is an excellent source of protein, potassium, and beta-carotene. It also contains a beneficial fat, alpha-linoleic acid, which is a heart-healthy Omega-3 fat. There is some scientific data that indicates that flaxseed oil combats constipation and IBS, and preliminary studies suggest that it also guards against high cholesterol and hypertension. Flaxseed oil is thick and rich and has a nutty taste. Because heat causes it to lose its beneficial properties, it is not recommended for cooking. It makes a delicious salad dressing when combined with vinegar or lemon juice. Flaxseed oil can also be used in baking to replace less beneficial oils.
One of the EFAs in flaxseed oil--alpha-linolenic acid--is known as an omega-3 fatty acid. Like the omega-3s found in fish, it appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and numerous other ailments. Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3s: Just 1 teaspoon contains about 2.5 grams, equivalent to more than twice the amount most Americans get through their diets. Flaxseeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid; omega-6s are the same healthy fats found in vegetable oils.
In addition, flaxseeds are a rich source of lignans, substances that appear to positively affect hormone-related problems. Lignans may also be useful in preventing certain cancers and combating specific bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including those that cause cold sores and shingles. When taken in ground form, flaxseeds provide an extra fiber boost, easing the passage of stools and benefiting the digestive tract in multiple ways.