Flax Seeds, also known as common flax or linseed, is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae.
It is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world.
It is of different varieties – brown and yellow or golden, – but they are largely with the same nutritional value.
Only yellow flax called Solin has a different oil profile.
Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal.
The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone.
Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, but agricultural use has also increased.
Flaxseed is what’s used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids: Flaxseeds are a rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acid: α-linolenic acid (ALA), short-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
- Lignans: Flax contains Lignan which has both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 80 times morephytoestrogenic lignans (secoisolariciresinol diglycoside-SDG) than other plant foods.
- Fiber: Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble fibres.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FLAX SEEDS
- Lower the risk of Heart Attack
Flaxseed is the richest plant source of the Omega-3 fatty acid and very low in saturated fatty acids (6 % per gram).
It also has moderate monosaturated fatty acids and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The fiber, phytosterols, and lignans in flaxseed help improve heart health.
This combination makes its oil extract great for persons who are at risk of having heart issues.
Phytosterols are molecules that are similar in structure to cholesterol, but they help prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
The clogging of the arteries by droplets of bad fat Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol has been identified as a contributory factor to high blood pressure.
Reduce Menopausal Symptoms.
Women who are in the early stage of menopause often experience hot flashes and night sweats, but flaxseed can help reduce these symptoms.
- Boosts Immune System
Interesting also to note is the fact that flax protein, which helps in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, also supports the immune system.
Flaxseed contains bioactive peptides, such as cyclolinopeptide A, which have strong immunosuppressive and antimalarial activities, inhibiting the human malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum in culture.
Because of the positive effect of this Omega-3 fatty acids, governments, and public health authorities in the Western world recommend increasing it in the diet.
- Lowers Blood Sugar Level.
According to a 2011 study, the dietary fibers, lignans, and Omega-3 fatty acids, present in flaxseed have a protective effect against diabetes risk.
It highlighted that supplementation of the diet of type 2 diabetics with 10 g of flaxseed powder for a period of 1 month reduced fasting blood glucose by 19.7 % and glycated hemoglobin by 15.6 %.
- Reduces Growth Of Tumour And Cancer
Men who are at risk of prostate cancer can add flaxseeds to their diet. One way to do this is to roast with low heat and blend it to powder form or add to sauce the way they are.
How to Select and Store Flaxseed: Seeds, Meal, Oil, and More
- You can find whole flaxseed at the store, but you’ll probably want to chop or grind it up before eating. For most people, ground flaxseed is easier to digest than whole seeds.
It also ensures the nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body.
You can find ground flaxseed at the store (also called flaxseed meal or flaxseed flour), or you can buy whole flaxseed and grind it yourself in a coffee grinder.
- You can also find flaxseed oil as well as flaxseed oil supplements available for purchase.
Flaxseed can be sensitive to heat and sunlight and has a reputation for spoiling quickly. It’s best to store your whole flaxseed in the refrigerator to keep it fresh longer.
If you grind your own flaxseed, keep the seeds in the fridge and take them out just before you’re ready to grind them. Then store the ground flaxseed in an airtight container, where it should stay fresh for a few months.
Flaxseed oil is usually sold in dark-colored bottles to minimize its exposure to light. Read the bottle’s label for storage details — most recommend storing in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
HOW FLAX SEED HELP IN BALANCING HORMONES
What Causes Hormonal Imbalances In Women?
Note that the primary hormones we will cover here are estrogen and progesterone.
For women, the hormonal environment in the body changes dramatically week to week as the body navigates the phases of the menstrual cycle.
As a woman nears the end of her childbearing years, even more, hormonal chaos ensues.
Ultimately, post-menopause, both estrogen, and progesterone settle into a new low normal.
Our external environment and lifestyle also play a significant role in hormonal balance.
High-stress lifestyles, nutrient-depleted diets, inflammatory foods, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and disruption of our circadian rhythm all have the ability to throw our body off balance.
Fortunately, there are things you can do with your diet and lifestyle to give your body a little extra support! One of these things is to consider including high-quality ground flaxseed in your routine.
Milled flaxseed has been a long-standing staple in a healthy diet thanks to the fact that it is packed with a ton of nutrients and essential fatty acids. Milled flaxseed is also extremely versatile and tastes great – two major perks that make this food easy to incorporate.
Since our body uses specific nutrients and fats to build hormones, let’s take look at how flaxseed specifically can help you attain hormonal balance.
- Lignans in Flax
Lignans are an antioxidant-rich plant compound that behaves as a phytoestrogen. A phytoestrogen is a compound that can behave similarly to estrogen and modulate its effects in the body.
Flaxseed lignans actually seem to be able to increase or decrease the effects of estrogen in the body based on the particular need of the individual – cool, huh?
In menstruating women, studies have found that women who consume just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed per day reduced the number of anovulatory (absence of ovulation) cycles. They also attained more favorable progesterone to estrogen ratio.
In postmenopausal women, supplementing a diet with flaxseed produced a shift to the less biologically active form of estrogen. This could potentially provide protection against estrogen-induced cancers and health issues without negatively impacting bone health.
- Fiber in Flax
While you may know that fiber is important for keeping your digestion regular and maintaining healthy blood lipid levels – did you know that regular digestion is also crucial for hormone balance?
Our liver has the ability to pack up excess estrogen and pass it off to our digestive tract for removal in a bowel movement. If we aren’t having regular bowel movements, this estrogen cannot be excreted from the body. If this happens, the estrogen may actually be reabsorbed through the intestinal tract, exacerbating hormone symptoms.
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