Is Flaxseed Oil Paleo?
While it’s true that many seeds and nuts are paleo-friendly, the same may not be accurate for the oils of these seeds and nuts. Even with flaxseed, it is a bit complicated. Ordinarily, including flaxseed in a paleo diet is a matter of dispute. So, we are not surprised that you have even more doubts about flaxseed oil.
So, is flaxseed oil paleo?
It is not clear if flaxseed oil is paleo or not. For one, it is unlikely that humans consumed significant amounts of pure flaxseed oil thousands of years ago, or if they even did at all.
Besides, flaxseed oil is not very stable and is potentially harmful to some people. However, you may not wish to dismiss flaxseed oil entirely, as there are specific instances where including it in your paleo diet can be beneficial.
Before you dismiss or add flaxseed oil to your paleo diet, you should read the information we have compiled below. We offer more insight into the suitability of flaxseed oil for a paleo diet. We also talk about how flaxseed oil can be beneficial and more.
Is Flaxseed Oil Paleo?
It is unlikely that pre-agricultural humans consumed flaxseed or flaxseed oil. Even if they did, the consumption rate must have been minimal. However, because flaxseed is a seed, it may qualify as paleo to some practitioners.
But with flaxseed oil, things are pretty different. Flaxseed oil may not be paleo outright, but it may be beneficial in some types of paleo diet.
Two fatty acids are essential to humans: omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid. These fatty acids are essential because the human body cannot produce them. So, we need to include them in our diet.
When consuming omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, balance is vital. Both of these fatty acids have some opposing effects on the body. So, if your diet skews in favor of one over the other, there may be a problem.
For some clarity, some experts believe that omega-3 is anti-inflammatory while omega-6 is pro-inflammatory. So, if you consume more omega-3 than omega-6, you may suppress inflammation to unsafe levels. Conversely, if you take in more omega-6 than omega-3, you may promote inflammation to dangerous levels.
Note that our analogy oversimplifies the phenomenon for some clarity. But the point is, there must be a balance in the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in your diet.
Other Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
One of flaxseed oil’s primary benefits in a paleo diet is omega-3 fatty acids. But beyond that, flaxseed oil is beneficial in the following ways:
Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Heart Health
Flaxseed oil can improve heart health by reducing inflammation and promoting blood flow through the blood vessels.
In a study, the effect of flaxseed oil on blood pressure was more impressive than the effect of safflower oil. So, flaxseed oil might also help with blood pressure control beyond reducing inflammation and promoting blood flow.
Flaxseed Oil May Enhance Skin Health
In a study of 13 women given flaxseed oil as a supplement, the participants had smoother and more hydrated skin at the end of the study. Besides improving hydration and smoothness, the flaxseed oil study also showed reduced skin irritations.
Similar studies in animals produced almost the same results. However, there are no concrete studies to verify the effect of applying flaxseed oil directly on the skin.
Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Digestive Health
A study used flaxseed oil, mineral oil, and olive oil to improve bowel movement in 50 patients on hemodialysis. At the end of the study, the results showed that the patients’ bowel movements had improved. Overall, flaxseed oil was as effective as olive oil and mineral oil.
There are currently no concrete studies on treating constipation with flaxseed oil in the general population. Studies have been on animals and humans with specific health conditions.
It Potentially Reduces the Chances of Getting Cancer
There are no concrete studies to show that flaxseed oil can prevent cancer in humans. However, studies on animals and test-tube studies show some promise.
Flaxseed oil prevented metastasis, colon cancer, and lung cancer in these animal studies. Test-tube studies showed that flaxseed oil reduced the growth of breast cancer.
Downsides of Flaxseed Oil
The following are some downsides of flaxseed oil:
Flaxseed oil contains a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids. So, it is very prone to rancidity. This is one of the reasons flaxseed oil is not suitable for cooking. Once exposed to air, it goes rancid quickly.
So, if you intend to add flaxseed oil to your paleo diet, you cannot cook with it.
It May Be Harmful in Uncontrolled Quantities
If you intend to add flaxseed oil to your paleo diet, you must limit how much of it you consume. When consumed excessively, flaxseed oil may leave you at risk of bleeding because it has blood-thinning effects.
Apart from that, flaxseed oil contains a group of potentially harmful compounds. These compounds are called cyanogenic glycosides. In controlled amounts, these compounds are not toxic. But if you consume a lot of flaxseed oil, the compounds may harm you.
While there is no unanimity on whether flaxseed oil is a paleo or not, we know flaxseed oil can be beneficial to a paleo diet. The omega-3s from flaxseed oil can help you balance out the omega-6s you get from your vegetables.