Versatile, tasty and extremely healthy: Linseed oil is considered “liquid gold”. But is vegetable oil really as useful as is often claimed? In the following you will find out everything about linseed oil, from the effects and various areas of application to dosage tips.
What is linseed oil?
Linseed oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the mature seeds of the flax plant. Common flax, also known as seed flax, oil flax or flax, is an ancient European crop that has been cultivated since the Neolithic Age. Because of its healing properties, flax was voted medicinal plant of the year in 2005. The oil of the flaxseed can be produced in different ways and has a more or less golden yellow color depending on the production method. Because of its nutty, hay-like taste, linseed oil is also becoming increasingly popular in the kitchen.
Linseed oil: healthy or harmful?
The oil extracted from the seeds of the flax plant, like the plant itself, is considered to be extremely healthy. This is mainly due to the many valuable ingredients that have a health-promoting effect on the organism. In the following you will find out what these are and why the fear that linseed oil could be harmful to your health still arises again and again.
Our recommendation is the following certified organic linseed oil . It is native cold-pressed and particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids.
Linseed oil is rich in vitamins
The valuable components of linseed oil include various vitamins. Mention should be made of vitamin C , which is best known for its immune-boosting effect, vitamin D , which has a significant influence on the health and function of bones, muscles, cells and hormones, vitamin E , which protects your body cells, and vitamin K , which strengthens blood vessels and affects metabolism. Flaxseed oil also contains the plant pigment beta-carotene , which your body can convert into essential vitamin A if required. The vitamin is also important for the function of your cells, the immune system and your vision.
Linseed oil is rich in minerals
In addition to vitamins, the tasty oil also contains minerals and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, zinc and potassium. While calcium strengthens bones and teeth, magnesium and iron are good for blood vessels and muscles. Zinc is important for metabolism, sodium and potassium have a positive effect on your nerves.
Linseed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids
Linseed oil is characterized above all by its extremely high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. These are fatty chemical structures that your body cannot make itself, even though they are essential for its function. The most important unsaturated fatty acids include omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids .
Both chemical compounds in turn contain valuable substances that have a very positive effect on health. In order to be able to develop this healthy effect, omega-3 acids and omega-6 acids should be present in your diet in a certain ratio, namely 1:5. In this context, too, linseed oil stands out clearly from other edible oils and foods: because the golden-yellow oil of the linseed plant reflects this ratio of the two fatty acids almost perfectly.
Linseed oil: Where do the doubts about the healthy effect come from?
Although linseed oil has been proven to have numerous valuable and health-promoting ingredients, doubts always arise about its healthy effects. Sometimes there is even a fear that the oil could be harmful to health.
The basis for such fears is, among other things, a study by Stiftung Warentest from 2015. In the study, 25 high-quality cooking oils were tested, including linseed oil. The study found that many of the oils tested did not meet the quality requirements placed on them. Some oils even contained pollutants.
But the study already made it clear that the deficiencies were not due to the oils themselves, but were mainly caused by improper production . Through these, pollutants got into the food and contaminated it. This means that linseed oil is not and has never been harmful to health. The oil was contaminated and adulterated due to incorrect production conditions. It is therefore advisable to buy particularly high-quality products. Because all seven oils that were rated “good” according to the Stiftung Warentest were of organic quality.
effects of linseed oil
Linseed oil has a number of positive effects on the human body. You can find the most important and interesting effects below.
Linseed oil against high cholesterol levels
Cardiovascular diseases are still one of the most common causes of death in Germany. Many cases of illness can be traced back to an unhealthy lifestyle and poor nutrition. The cholesterol value plays an important role here.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is actually a vital substance for your organism, which your body even produces itself. In addition to this, we also take in cholesterol through our diet, namely through animal products.
If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, your body can no longer break it down properly. The excess cholesterol builds up in your bloodstream, where it can lead to blockages and hardening of the arteries. The result is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Flaxseed oil helps against high cholesterol levels
Flaxseed oil can help prevent such diseases and protect your cardiovascular system. This is due to the extremely high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in linseed oil, for example omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids . The omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil include alpha-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Behind these complicated names are essential active ingredients that promote blood circulation, protect your heart and arteries and keep your blood vessels supple.
Studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids mentioned prevent cardiovascular diseases, keep blood lipid levels low and help against high cholesterol levels. Flaxseed oil helps you to effectively prevent diseases such as strokes or heart attacks and to generally strengthen your health.
Linseed oil for healthy digestion
The traditional oil not only has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system, but also on your digestion. Anyone suffering from flatulence or a bloated stomach, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome or diarrhea can find relief by consuming linseed oil.
Flaxseeds, i.e. the seeds from which flaxseed oil is made, work even better for this purpose. These seeds contain numerous swelling and mucilage substances that benefit your health. Because the seeds swell in the gastrointestinal tract and form a protective film around your inner mucous membranes.
In addition, the ingredients of the seeds stimulate digestion in a natural way and can ward off pollutants. So if you have a sensitive digestive system and are prone to complaints, you can use both linseed oil and ground linseed to gently support digestion.
Linseed oil to protect against neurological and psychological damage
Numerous medical studies have found a connection between unsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and protection against psychological and neurological damage. Fatty acids play an important role in the transmission of nerve impulses.
Studies have shown that levels of unsaturated fatty acids are lower in adolescents and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as well as those with depression or schizophrenia, than in healthy people. This suggests the reverse conclusion that a high intake of unsaturated fatty acids can protect against such diseases, among other things.
Since linseed oil has an extremely high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, its regular intake offers prevention and protection against nerve damage and mental illnesses. According to scientific studies, this also applies to the risk of developing strokes or dementia.
Linseed oil against inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effects of the flax plant have been known for thousands of years and play an important role in its status as a medicinal plant. The golden-yellow oil of the plant also has anti-inflammatory properties and has therefore always been used to prevent infections or to allow them to subside more quickly.
Linseed oil works against internal inflammation
Regarding the anti-inflammatory power of flaxseed oil, medical research has found that regular consumption of the oil reduces the symptoms of arthritic diseases. Arthritis causes painful inflammation of the joints, which often causes severe pain and restricts the freedom of movement of those affected. With targeted therapy, these symptoms can usually be alleviated quickly. However, if you want to do something about the unpleasant disease yourself, you should consider adding linseed oil to your diet.
Linseed oil for healthy skin
The anti-inflammatory properties of linseed oil can be used not only internally but also externally. Numerous testimonials suggest that linseed oil helps to heal skin irritations and can alleviate acne, for example. However, this experience has not yet been scientifically confirmed.
However, the assumption that linseed oil also has skin care properties is not unfounded. The precious oil is rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is considered a “cell protection” vitamin because it protects your body cells from harmful molecules, the so-called free radicals, which accelerate cell aging and can thus trigger diseases such as cancer. Vitamin E ensures that free radicals cannot damage your cells, thus preventing premature cell aging and also providing the cells with plenty of moisture. Alpha-linolenic acid, which is found in abundance in the oil, also protects and moisturizes the cells.
Indeed, these properties suggest that flaxseed oil promotes your skin health. So if you suffer from pimples or other irritations, you can try applying the oil to the affected areas. Because it can’t do any harm.
Linseed oil helps with weight loss
The digestive properties of flaxseed oil and flaxseed are said to have another positive effect: they are said to help with weight loss. If you want to lose weight quickly , an oily diet is less recommended. But if you want to lose weight in a healthy way in the long term, products made from flaxseed can help you.
Both flaxseed oil and flaxseed are said to contain substances that stimulate the metabolism and thus promote fat burning. In addition, eating ground flaxseeds in particular can help you lose weight, because the seeds swell in the digestive tract, causing a long- lasting feeling of satiety .
It is most effective if you combine the consumption of the seeds with a long-term change in diet. Diet methods that have enjoyed great popularity in recent years and have worked for many people include the paleo diet , the low-carb diet and the clean eating trend. Gentle but regular exercise, for example in the form of yoga , Pilates or tennis , will also help you to lose weight in the long term and to feel better about your body.
Risks of linseed oil
Linseed oil is considered extremely beneficial and has so many health-promoting properties that it can definitely be considered a local superfood alongside beetroot and buckwheat . Still, there are some things you should know if you want to incorporate the oil into your diet.
Linseed oil forms pollutants when heated
Therefore, you should only use linseed oil cold in salads or other dishes that have already been cooked.As healthy as linseed oil is, you should only use it cold and not use it for frying, cooking or baking. The oil is not heat stable. As a result, when the oil is heated, so-called trans fats are formed from the unsaturated fatty acids , which, in contrast to the original trans fats, are more harmful to health. Experts assume that trans fats put a strain on your body and can promote cardiovascular diseases, among other things; they turn the actually positive effect of the oil into a negative one.
Linseed oil can self-ignite
In contrast to other edible oils, linseed oil does not store as well. You should therefore use the oil quickly after opening it and always store it tightly closed in a dark, preferably refrigerated place. The refrigerator is ideal, but a dark kitchen cupboard is also an option.
Storage is important for two reasons. Firstly, once opened, linseed oil quickly deteriorates if stored incorrectly. It then becomes rancid, acquires an unpleasant odor and a bitter taste that severely limits edibility.
Second, linseed oil reacts not only to heat, but also to oxygen. In the worst case, the oil can even ignite itself. It is true that this risk is rather low in the kitchen. However, in workshops in which linseed oil is also used as a material, fires occur again and again because rags soaked with linseed oil are not properly stored and disposed of.
Flaxseed oil can be harmful in excess
Despite its healthy ingredients, linseed oil should be consumed in moderation. A certain dosage is sufficient to ensure that the oil develops its health-promoting effects. Exceeding this dose can cause side effects. Because linseed oil contains very small amounts of substances that are converted into harmful substances, such as hydrocyanic acid, through metabolic processes in the body. If you constantly consume too much oil, these harmful substances can accumulate and cause health problems.
However, in order to suffer serious damage from linseed oil, you would have to consume more than 100 milliliters of the oil every day. So the risk is very small. Nevertheless, like all foods, linseed oil should be processed as part of a balanced and varied diet.
Buy linseed oil
After linseed oil had been forgotten for a long time despite its healing powers, the nutty oil has been increasingly discussed as part of a healthy diet in recent years .
The range of linseed oil has expanded accordingly. You can now buy it both online and in retail stores. Drugstores and health food stores often have the oil in their range, but also well-stocked grocers.
Studies by consumer protection organizations have shown time and again that organic linseed oil has the best effects. Basically, you should make sure that your linseed oil is native and cold-pressed so that no ingredients are destroyed during production. Linseed oil without an organic seal can also be of good quality, but there is a greater risk that the product will be of lesser quality. Therefore, before you buy, find out more with the help of test results and look for a provider that you trust and that values quality.
Our recommendation is the following certified organic linseed oil . It is native cold-pressed and particularly rich in unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids.
Buy linseed oil capsules
Linseed oil capsules are now also a widespread form of linseed oil. You can find the capsules both online and in drugstores, health food stores and (rarely) pharmacies. Linseed oil capsules are a way of taking a consistent dose of the oil in a targeted and regular manner. This not only makes the dosage very easy, the capsules are also often cheaper than the oil and are combined with other beneficial ingredients.
So if you can do without the grassy, nutty taste of the oil in the kitchen and want to consume linseed oil instead, mainly because of its health benefits, you have a very good alternative in the capsules. Many capsules are also vegan and gluten-free, so you can take them if you follow a vegan diet or suffer from celiac disease .
In addition to pure oil and linseed oil capsules, you can also use the seeds of the flax plant. These are available both crushed and uncrushed and can be ordered online, but are also available in health food stores, drugstores and grocery stores.
Flaxseeds are characterized above all by the fact that they have a very beneficial effect on digestion. If you want to do something good for your gastrointestinal tract, you should definitely use ground flaxseed. Here, too, organic quality is generally the most recommendable alternative.
The nutty-tasting seeds are even more versatile than flaxseed oil and can be used in dairy dishes like yogurt and muesli, but are also great for baking and garnishing.
The right dosage: How do I take linseed oil?
How best to take flaxseed oil depends on two factors: the purpose for which you want to take it and the form in which you take it.
Dosing of linseed oil capsules
If you decide to use capsules, you want to take advantage of the health-promoting properties of linseed oil. The dosage of the capsules depends on the respective provider, usually one to two capsules a day are recommended. Be careful not to overdose the capsules, because then the positive effect of the oil can be reversed in the long run.
Dosage & uses of flaxseed
Flaxseed can be eaten on its own or added to various foods. You can make bread with flaxseeds, or stir them into your morning yogurt for a filling touch. If you want to add flaxseed to your diet, you should start with a small amount and then slowly increase it. This is especially true if the seeds are to be enjoyed pure.
We recommend doses of one tablespoon at the beginning, which are gradually increased. Flaxseeds have an intensive effect on the digestion, which first has to get used to the high-fiber diet. Diarrhea is a sign that you should lower your flaxseed dose first.
Dosage & uses of linseed oil
The best way to dose linseed oil depends on the form in which you want to take it. This way of taking is definitely recommended for anyone who appreciates the fresh taste of the oil. In principle, every dose below 100 milliliters is harmless. So you can safely use a relatively large amount of the oil, for example to garnish a large salad.
On the other hand, if you want to benefit less from the taste and more from the ingredients, you can stir a dose of your choice into quark, yoghurt or muesli. Doses of at least one to two tablespoons are recommended.
This is also the recommended amount if you want to take the oil neat. Some reports indicate that taking one or two tablespoons of oil immediately after getting up, i.e. on an empty stomach, should have a very positive effect on digestion. This is especially an interesting option for you if your digestion is a bit sluggish.
Sometimes it takes a little time to get used to the taste of the oil. If the fresh note of the oil puts you off a bit, you can slowly approach it with small taste samples, for example a teaspoon. There are also suppliers who sell extra mild linseed oil.
Recipe: Quark with linseed oil and boiled potatoes
In Lusatia, Saxony and Silesia in particular, linseed oil in combination with quark is still traditionally used today to refine jacket potatoes. This is not only quick and easy, the fresh, nutty taste of the oil also gives the jacket potatoes a varied kick.
The jacket potatoes are prepared as usual. Then you take a portion of low-fat quark the size of your choice and mix it with milk until the quark becomes creamy. Salt, pepper, chives and – depending on the amount of quark – at least one to two tablespoons of linseed oil are then added. The mixture is thoroughly stirred and your healthy, delicious potato side dish is ready.
If you are vegan or would rather avoid dairy products entirely due to a severe lactose intolerance , you can sprinkle the potatoes with a little linseed oil and season as above.
Otherwise, you can refine the quark cream as you wish, for example by mixing in diced cucumber and nuts, especially walnuts. And if you prefer to enjoy the quark cream for breakfast rather than lunch, you can use quark (or yoghurt), linseed oil, berries, fresh fruit, muesli and nuts to start the day nutritiously.