- Academic Editor
The inclusion of flaxseed in the diet may have a great number of potential benefits for the well-being of both healthy individuals and those challenged by disease conditions as well. With an increase in the number and quality of studies focused on the physiological and pathophysiological effects of dietary flaxseed, our knowledge concerning the rationale for the inclusion of flaxseed in our diet has become more convincing and stronger. The purpose of this review is threefold. First, the review will comprehensively document the evidence supporting the value of dietary flaxseed to improve bodily health in both normal and disease conditions. Second, this review will identify the mechanisms of action responsible for these effects. Finally, this article will review practical aspects relevant to the inclusion of flaxseed in the diet. Briefly, supplementing the diet with flaxseed has beneficial effects on the treatment and/or prevention of different kinds of cardiovascular disease (hypertension, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarcts, atherosclerosis), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, breast cancer, bone strength, menopause, diabetes, and wound healing. Although some controversy exists on the component within flaxseed that provides these beneficial actions, it is likely that the rich content of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid, is primarily responsible for the majority of these biological effects. It is concluded that the constantly expanding evidence in support of the inclusion of flaxseed in our daily diet to provide significant health benefits strongly encourages the initiation of additional work on dietary flaxseed in order to both confirm past findings as well as to further advance our knowledge regarding the important biological actions of dietary flaxseed.