Flaxseed Facts and Health Benefits

flaxseed

 

Flaxseed has been a widely grown crop for thousands of years, and it is believed that it was one of the first plants that humans domesticated and farmed.

It is one of the most versatile plants in the world, capable of being made into fabrics, especially linen, medicine, high-quality paper (often used for money), soap, and all sorts of other things.

It has many industrial uses – it is an important ingredient in paints, varnishes and linoleum for example.

The most useful thing that flax seed can be made into, however, is linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil.

Linseed oil is one of the most commonly used vegetable oils. It is also being used in food, used as a finish and polish for wood and painted surfaces, in putty and caulk, and perhaps most notably in linoleum, which many people wrongly believe is made from man-made materials.

Linoleum is actually wood or cork dust on canvas, overlaid with solidified linseed oil, making an all-natural floor covering that is especially suitable for people with allergies.

Wood is also treated with linseed oil when making bats for some sports, including cricket.

The popularity of linseed oil for food preparation has been steadily growing again, as people have been paying more attention to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which the oil is rich in, while also being low in the omega-6 fatty acids that many people are now trying to avoid.

Some have come to use it as an alternative to cod liver oil, and it is readily edible poured straight onto salads – it has a nut-like flavor. If you do not like the taste, though, capsules of the oil are also available.

As most of the world’s flax seed is cultivated in Europe, it is much cheaper there than elsewhere, but as a rule it should be cheaper than cod liver oil in almost all countries.

Flaxseed is traditionally used as a natural laxative, providing bulk to the stool as well as lubrication.

But flax oil has many other benefits, which derive from its richness in the omega 3 essential fatty acid.

Essential fatty acids are so named because we must get them from our diet – our bodies do not make them.

They are important for normal growth and development, brain function, and help prevent chronic illnesses like arthritis and heart disease.

Essential fatty acids come in several forms, the most commonly known being the omega 3 fatty acids and the omega 6 fatty acids.

Omega 6 fatty acids are more common in our Western diets, being found in oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame, and other oils.

It is possible to have a deficiency of omega 6 fatty acids if relying only on omega 3 fats, like flax and fish oils, as the main type of fat in the diet.

Or if taking the omega 3 fatty acids in greater quantities for a period of one and a half, to two years, to restore an omega 3 deficiency.

But the more likely scenario is that an excess of omega 6 fatty acids is being consumed in relation to the omega 3’s.

Symptoms of omega 3 fatty acid deficiency include dry skin, sticky platelets, and tissue inflammation.

Given that inflammation is of particular concern for acne sufferers, it becomes easier to see why increasing the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet remains a popular natural acne treatment.

Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in certain types of fish like salmon and mackerel, and flaxseed oil.

And as well as reducing inflammation, omega-3s speed up healing – again, important for acne sufferers – and reduce platelet stickiness.

Platelet stickiness becomes important beyond heart health when you consider that the blood cells carry the supply of oxygen to cells, including cells in our skin, and the cells that are involved in healing.

There are 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids that are significant. These are alpha linolenic acid (ALA or LNA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

ALA or LNA, as it is often abbreviated, is converted into EPA and DHA by the body. EPA and DHA are the forms in which the omega-3s are most easily used by the body.

Supplementation with ALA has been found to reduce inflammation and improve dry skin.

Flaxseed oil is a very good source of ALA, containing an average of 55% and higher.

But to carry out the conversions into EPA and DHA, the body needs to have good levels of zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6.

The recommended intake of ALA is about 2,220 mg per day. Higher doses are recommended to treat deficiencies, or some conditions.

There is no real standard recommendation for acne sufferers simply because not enough studies have been done in relation to acne.

But doses of 3000 to 6000 mg per day are used to prevent and treat some chronic conditions.

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Flaxseed Essentials

Despite all the concern about fat in our diet, the body does require healthy fats and oils to function.

The problem is that most people are getting the wrong kinds of fats in their diet and are lacking the good, healthy fats.

Besides being an energy source, healthy fats and oils are nutrients used in the production of cell membranes, as well as in several hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids.

These compounds help regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system.

In addition, dietary fat carries fat-soluble vitamins — vitamins A, D, E and K — from your food into your body.

Fat also helps maintain healthy hair and skin, protects vital organs, keeps your body insulated, and provides a sense of fullness after meals (satiety).

The human body cannot function properly without two polyunsaturated fats – linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid.

These fatty acids which are found in flaxseed oil and other healthy oils are truly to normal cell structure and body function.

Flaxseed may prove useful in the nutritional management of patients with autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Budwig has been treating cancer of all kinds with nothing but cottage cheese and Flaxseed Oil for over 16 years.

She says that people with cancer have blood that is low in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and the blood has a greenish cast. Flaxseed oil is 56% Omega 3 and 16% Omega 6.

Most people have blood that is 80% deficient in Omega 3. Dr. Budwig has taken patients sometimes given only hours to live and restored them to health.

Doctors had attempted to treat patients with sources of Omega 3 but had not been consistently successful.

Dr. Budwig’s research found that in order for these fatty acids to be fully available to the body, they must be tied to a sulfur based protein; the best source of which is cottage cheese.

Depending on the severity of the condition she had her patients use 3 to 6 Tbsps. of Flaxseed oil a day, with at least 4 oz. or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese per day.

What are the Health Benefits of Flaxseed?

Flaxseed improves every molecule in the body. It improves the quality of hair, nails, and skin, as well as helping you to lose weight or bulk up it lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and prevents arthritis and cancers.

Some of the Undisputed Benefits of Flaxseed Includes:

  1. Better regulation of blood sugar levels
  2. Eases inflammatory tissue conditions, including arthritis
  3. Alleviation of dry skin, eczema and psoriasis
  4. Enhanced immune system
  5. Increased metabolic rate with a positive impact on weight management
  6. Helps with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  7. Natural laxative
  8. Lowered blood cholesterol levels
  9. Lowered high blood pressure
  10. Increased energy, vitality, and stamina
  11. Increased sense of calmness under stress
  12. Reduced threat of blood clots
  13. Protection against cancers, particularly hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate

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Can Flaxseed Cure Cancer?

Like olive, canola, and most other plant oils, flax seed oil is highly unsaturated and heart-healthy.

Lignans and other flax seed components may also have antioxidant properties, which mean they may reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals.

Recently small studies of cancer patients who consumed flaxseeds have produced some encouraging results.

In one study men with prostate cancer who ate an ounce of ground flaxseeds (almost three tablespoons) a day as part of a very-low-fat diet was able to slow the progress of their cancers between the time they were diagnosed and the time of surgery.

A similar study of women awaiting surgery for breast cancer found that those who ate a flaxseed muffin daily (with about four tablespoons of ground flaxseeds per muffin) had a slower tumor growth rate.

The results showed that the flaxseed pre-lignans, converted in the intestines by bacteria into powerful anti-cancer lignans, were extremely efficient, in low doses, in killing the breast cancer cells in these volunteer women.

The results were nothing short of dramatic. The growth index in the cancer cells was reduced 34.2%, while the level of programmed cell death increased 30.7%.

Women who expressed the HER2 metastatic oncogene saw its expression decrease by a dramatic 71%.

Studies of animals, too, suggest some anti-cancer benefit from flaxseed. But it’s always difficult to know whether it’s the lignans that help or some other element in the flaxseeds. And not all studies have yielded positive results.

Besides lignans, flaxseeds and their oil are also the best food sources of an essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid.

“Essential” means we must consume it, because our bodies cannot manufacture it.

Essential fatty acids are important for cell membranes, blood pressure regulation, and other functions.

Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3, similar to some of the fatty acids in fish oil.

Like aspirin, omega-3s may reduce blood clotting, thus lessening the chance of a fatal heart attack.

Flaxseeds and their oil may also lower total blood cholesterol, as well as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

But that should come as no big surprise since any highly unsaturated oil will do that, particularly if substituted for saturated fats.

The fiber in flaxseeds may also help against cholesterol because it is soluble, similar to that in oats.

What’s the Difference between Brown and Golden Flaxseed?

Brown flax, can be eaten, however, it is grown for the commercial Linseed Oil, paint, and solvents Industries.

The Omega Golden Flax Seed was developed for human consumption and is preferred for the food market because of its nutty-buttery flavor.

The nutritional value of golden flaxseed vs. brown flaxseed is very similar if the samples are of the same quality.

Quality is very important in determining the omega-3 and omega-6 content and overall nutritional value.

How Do I Prepare Golden Flaxseeds?

Golden flax can be purchased whole, ground and in oil form. We recommend that you obtain golden flax seeds in the whole seed form provides the highest nutritional value.

It is recommended that you grind a portion of your golden flax seeds as needed. The golden flaxseeds can be ground into a coarse powder form using a coffee grinder or electric flax grinder.

Uncrushed flax seeds will not be digested and will thus pass through you undigested.

What can I do with Whole Flaxseeds?

The small, golden flax seeds add nutrition when added to bread doughs, pancake, muffin or cookie mixes. When sprinkled on top of any of these before baking, they also add crunch and taste.

Golden flaxseed can be an easy and extremely beneficial addition to everyone’s diet.

Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is noted to have high nutritional value, making it a priority choice of food for health conscious people.

Flaxseed is the latest craze to take over Hollywood and is credited with improving hair, skin and nail quality, aiding weight loss, and preventing diseases such as arthritis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Unlike other Hollywood health fads, it won’t break the bank.

How Do I Store Flaxseeds?

Whole golden flax seed which is clean, dry, and of good quality can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. For optimum freshness, ground flax seed should be ground as needed.

Unused ground flax seed can be refrigerated in an airtight container if it will be used in just a matter of days, or it can be stored in the freezer for about a month.

Ground flax can be added to your morning juice or chocolate milk – usually a heaping tablespoon or two with your favorite beverage. Or you can sprinkle ground flax on cereals or yogurt.

Understanding why you eat certain foods is essential in maintaining life-long health habits. Certainly, pleasing taste and visual appeal are some reasons you make food choices.

Yet, choosing foods that keep your body working as a finely tuned machine is also the goal that healthy-minded individuals strive to achieve.