Organic flax oil is a waxy liquid distilled or pressed from seeds of flax plants that have not been treated with insecticides, fungicides, or any other chemicals, including fertilizers or weed killers. By avoiding chemicals, organic flax oil allegedly retains a higher percent of nutrients, particularly lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. The organic growing of the flax plant also yields oil without traces of harmful residues.
Present in significant amounts, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans confer several health benefits to organic flax oil. These essential fatty acids can allegedly help the brain to function better by providing nutrients for neurons and surrounding nerve tissue. Also, the acids preserve eye health by improving the function of the retina.
One particular omega-3 acid abundant in the organic flax oil is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which medical studies cite for lowering cholesterol levels, halting heart disease and easing some forms of arthritis. Roughly 50 percent of the composition of organic flax oil is ALA; other fatty acid components include oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Clinical research suggests lignans in flax oil have cancer-fighting abilities; lignans, primarily present in whole flaxseeds, are sometimes added to organic flax oil before bottling. Used externally, flax oil can cure skin diseases such as eczema, reports claim.
To preserve the healthy phytochemicals, most organic flaxseed oil is never heated. Producers of the organic oil typically cold-press the oil and avoid using solvents. Expiration dates are generally stamped on the outside of a flax oil bottle to ensure that users do not use the oil more than four or five months after the date of cold-pressing; manufacturers also recommend constant refrigeration. With no preservatives, the organic flax oil ages quickly and can become rancid. Once rancid, the oil can cause dangerous free radicals to be released in the body.
Since producers of organic flax oil cannot rely on pesticides to protect their crops, the planting of organic flax seeds begins with selecting robust seeds without defects. Large, whole seeds that are completely healthy will have an easier time fighting off fungi and bacteria that can cause plant disease. Flax plants, averaging between 1 foot (0.3 m) and 3 feet (0.91 m) in height, are relatively short plants which have to compete with weeds for sunlight. The farmer’s lack of ability to use chemical weed killers on the organic crop can result in smaller flax crops. This often translates into higher prices for organic flax oil when compared with non-organic flax oil.