Do you have dry, itchy skin? Red, blotchy skin? Acne? Rosacea? Eczema? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish oil. However, some individuals can’t eat fish or take fish oil supplements, and so must turn to plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Enter Flaxseed.
Flaxseed contains the highest concentration of all the plant-based omega-3s and is rich in alpha-linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids that cannot be produced within the body and must be acquired through diet. Flaxseed is also the richest dietary source of lignans, a group of chemical compounds that can bind to estrogen and flush excess amount of estrogen from the body, reducing the risk of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Lignans have shown anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity in research on human diseases, and may even be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer.
Flaxseed’s anti-inflammatory properties have the ability to quicken wound healing, and the omeg-3 content of the flaxseeds keeps your skin well hydrated and moisturized. This leads to a protection barrier against environmental pollutants and irritants, and locks in water, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles.
In a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, Silke De Spirt and a team of researchers studies the effects of flaxseed oil and borage oil on the skin. They noted diminished skin redness, reduced blood flow, and significantly increased skin hydration after 12 weeks of use. Also noted, was decreased transepidermal water loss and significantly decreased roughness and scaling.
If this study doesn’t pique your interest, then how about flaxseed’s status as one of Hippocrates’s original medicines? It was widely used during the height of the Roman Empire for its healing benefits.
-Flaxseed in Your Diet-
There are a number of ways you can introduce flaxseeds into your diet. You can use flaxseed flour for baking, you can grind flaxseeds into a flaxseed meal, or you can add flaxseed oil to everyday dishes like rice, salad dressing, or steamed vegetables.
Start your day off with 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal in your smoothie and add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your lunch or dinner salad. Flaxseed meal and oil have a refreshing, nutty taste. Not only will your skin benefit from this plan, your digestive system will also thank you – 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal has 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber
A word of caution, you should never cook with flaxseed oil, as the high fatty acid content makes it extremely susceptible to damage, even from low heat. Ensure it is kept in a dark bottle and refrigerated, as it can become rancid quickly, and avoid temptation of buying a supersized bottle!
- Shelley Burns ASCP Skin Deep Magazine
A doctor of naturopathic medicine, completed studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and has a certification in complementary and integrative medicine from Harvard University.