Most people already know flaxseed and many even have the habit of consuming it in the form of seed or flour, usually mixed with some food (such as fruit) or drink (juice or shake).
Flaxseed is considered a functional food due to the numerous health benefits, both in the prevention of diseases and in the treatment of others and also for being an ally in the weight loss process. But, what not everyone knows is that the consumption of oil is also beneficial, and more: it can also be an ally of the beauty of hair and skin.
Sara Bragança, a doctor specializing in Orthomolecular Therapy, a member of the Brazilian Society of Aesthetic Medicine, highlights that linseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum L.).
Mariana Ferri D’avila, clinical and sports nutritionist, comments that there are two types of flaxseed: brown and golden. “The nutritional benefits are similar, with the latter having a slightly higher essential fatty acid (good fat) content than the former,” she says.
In the market it is possible to find flaxseed in the form of seed, oil and flour and, despite the general benefits of the food, each of these forms has its particularities.
Flaxseed: seed X flour X oil
Mariana explains that flaxseed contains a lot of fiber, present in the husk (1 tablespoon of flaxseed contains 4g of fiber). “This fiber is excellent for improving bowel function, to help increase satiety, decrease binge eating and prevent colon cancer,” she says.
“Another nutrient found in flaxseed is polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 and 6). However, in order for this good fat to be absorbed, it is necessary that the flaxseed husk breaks down, as our body does not have any enzyme capable of doing this, and often we cannot break it just by chewing. A tip is to grind in the mix or blender until it turns into a flour and consume within two days, keeping it in a closed container in the fridge”, comments the nutritionist.
Flaxseed flour is the seed itself already crushed and sold packaged, as highlighted by Mariana. “It is a more practical option. However, it is known that part of the nutrients is lost in this process. If you are going to consume flaxseed flour, choose the one that says: stabilized”, he says.
Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, is a polyunsaturated oil that has great health benefits. “However, pure oil does not contain flaxseed fibers and other benefits from it”, says Mariana.
Flávia de Oliveira José, pharmacist at Doce Flora, professor of Cosmetology and coordinator of the Pharmacy technical course at Esaup (School of Health in Piracicaba), explains that flaxseed has about 39% oil in its composition and, therefore, the oil is removed from the seeds by cold pressing. “This guarantees the preservation of the medicinal properties of its fatty acids, preserving its CIS form, which is the ideal form for therapeutic and cosmetic use,” she says.
Flaxseed oil benefits
Know the main advantages of consumption and/or use of linseed oil:
1. It is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6
Flavia explains that linseed oil is one of nature’s richest foods in Omega-3 and also has Omega-6.
“The ideal ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 is 1:4 respectively, while linseed vegetable oil has a ratio of 1:3, very close to ideal. Omega 3 and 6 are known as essential, because the human body does not synthesize them, making their consumption in the diet indispensable”, explains the pharmacist.
Mariana comments that the benefits of linseed oil are especially due to the high content of Omega-3 (55% of the oil present in flaxseed is Omega-3): “a type of unsaturated fat that adds a lot to our health, as it has a potent anti-inflammatory”.
2. It has preventive action
Flaxseed oil is considered a functional food, as its use can bring health benefits, thus contributing to physical well-being and reducing the development of diseases. “Preventing and controlling cancers, such as breast and lung cancers, among other benefits, have been highlighted by recent studies”, says Flávia.
“Possible effects against osteoporosis and in relieving menopausal symptoms are also highlighted”, adds the pharmacist.
Mariana points out that, if used in adequate amounts, flaxseed oil can be beneficial in cases of: acne, psoriasis, hair health, joint pain, lupus, PMS and menopausal symptoms.
It is also believed that the oil may have a beneficial effect on people with diabetes, as it contributes to the stabilization of blood sugar levels, as well as helping to prevent obesity. But, of course, for this, it must be consumed under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist.
3. Helps control cholesterol and prevents cardiovascular disease
Due to the presence of Omega-3, flaxseed oil, when used correctly, can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol); reduce inflammation in the arteries, thus preventing diseases such as atherosclerosis (plaque formation in the vessels).
4. Makes the gut work well
Because it is an oil, it helps in the proper functioning of the intestine, as it is able to emulsify the fecal cake, facilitating its elimination.
5. Makes the skin healthier
Flaxseed oil can also be an ally of skin health and, consequently, of its beauty, as, thanks to its antioxidant properties, it helps to prevent premature aging of the skin and to prevent some types of inflammation, such as acne. .
6. Strengthens nails, teeth and bones
Flávia points out that studies have also pointed out that the consumption of flaxseed helps and strengthens nails, teeth and bones, in addition to making the skin healthier.
“However, more studies are needed to safely stipulate the appropriate doses of consumption, according to individual particularities”, adds the pharmacist.
Linseed oil vs other oils
But after all, what are the main differences between flaxseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, canola oil?
Flávia explains that the main difference between these oils is the lipid constituents. “Some have medium-chain saturated fatty acids; others, unsaturated fatty acids; in addition to the vitamins that are very specific to each one,” he says.
“But, to simplify, they are vegetable oils, called ‘good’ fats, as they do not cause oxidation and formation of free radicals (one of the villains of premature aging). In addition to having characteristics very similar to the constituents of the skin, avoiding irritation and possible allergies, in the case of topical use”, adds the pharmacist.
Sara points out that the main differences between the oils used in the kitchen are the type of fat (fatty acids) present, as well as their properties. “Coconut oil, for example, has a prevalence of saturated fatty acids. Canola oil provides monounsaturated fat, and corn and sunflower oils provide polyunsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fats, present in coconut oil, are more resistant and stable at high temperatures (such as those used in food preparation), making them a good choice for cooking. Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are sensitive to heat and can end up being harmful to health at the end of cooking,” she says.
“Avocado oil, in turn, is rich in beta-sitosterol, monounsaturated fats, vitamin A and vitamin E. It helps to reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for the compulsion to eat and the accumulation of fat in the abdomen region. It can be consumed pure or in recipes, even at high temperatures”, adds the doctor.
In this way, knowing that each oil has its particularities, the ideal is to have the guidance of a nutritionist to include any type of oil in your diet, as he is the professional who will indicate which one is best suited to your needs.
How to consume linseed oil
Flávia explains that the pure oil is found in capsules in pharmacies and drugstores, and can also be found in bottles to use in food.
Mariana explains that the ideal is to use the oil at room temperature, “because if there is excessive heating, this can change the quality of the fat and the person does not obtain the desired benefits”.
“The quantity and consumption must be individually determined, as excess can harm health, mainly by prolonging bleeding time and suppressing some inflammatory mediators. I always warn that the dose is essential for something that could be a medicine not to turn into a poison”, comments the nutritionist.
Flaxseed oil weight loss?
This is one of the top questions about flaxseed oil. But the matter is controversial.
There are those who argue that flaxseed oil is a good ally in the weight loss process because, due to the presence of Omega-3, it is able to fight inflammatory processes, such as the accumulation of fat. In this way, it would act directly inside the fat cell (adipocyte), decreasing inflammation.
In addition, as Sara points out, flaxseed oil has a satiety effect, reducing hunger. This is because, as it is a type of fat, it takes time to digest, preventing the person from wanting to eat again shortly after eating. “And it even speeds up metabolism,” she says.
However, it is worth noting that it does not perform any kind of “miracle” and will probably only offer benefits for those who want to lose weight if it is combined with good nutrition and physical exercise. In addition, it is recommended that it be consumed under the guidance of a nutritionist or doctor.
For Mariana, if the intention is to lose weight, the ideal is to eat crushed flaxseed. “So, in addition to the benefits of Omega-3, the person will have the high content of dietary fibers that help with satiety and reduce food compulsion”, says the nutritionist.
linseed oil for hair
Flávia explains that linseed oil can be used in cosmetic creams and emulsions:
- Due to its emollient properties;
- To restore oiliness, promoting hydration and nutrition of the hair fiber;
- Decreasing frizz;
- Improving malleability and preventing hair breakage;
- Leaving hair shinier and softer, and soft to the touch.
“Linseed oil is found in shampoos and conditioners, such as Elseve Óleo Extraordinário, a complete line of hair products with linseed oil, among other vegetable oils”, comments the pharmacist.
Flávia explains that the oil can be added to shampoo, conditioner and comb cream, or even silicones to repair ends. “Always remembering the importance of consulting a pharmacist to know the amount to be used and possible incompatibilities with the products. Always avoid going directly to the root of the hair, as excess oil ‘smothers’ the strands and causes hair loss”, he guides.
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