Benefits of Using Flaxseed In Your Diet
What is Flax seed?
Flax Seed comes from the Flax plant and belongs in the Linaceae Family. This annual plant has tall slender stems that can grow up to almost 4ft with slender green leaves, beautiful pale blue flowers, of which can also be red. The fruit of this plant contain glossy brown seeds, which are shiny, and have a hard shell that is slightly larger than sesame seeds. Their color can be a deep amber to a reddish brown and their flavor has a nutty, earthy edge. Flax seed can be purchased as flour, oil, in a seed or as a capsule.
History of Flax seed
Flax Seed has been used for thousands of years and is one of the world's oldest plants. It is thought to have first been cultivated by the Babylonians with evidence of flax cultivation having been found in Babylonian burial chambers from 3000 BC. Later on, the Egyptians and Greeks started seeing it's usefulness. It has been said that the Greek physician and Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, proclaimed it highly as a cure to intestinal discomfort. King Charlemagne, 8th century French King, revered it so much that he imported laws to impose his subjects to routinely cultivate and consume flax.
Benefits of Flaxseed
There are many healthy components in flax seed but it is know primarily for three of its nutrients: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) identified as Omega-3 essential fatty acid( or Alpha-Linoleic-Acid) and Omega-6 essential fatty acids ( linoleic acid), lignans, and fiber. Flax seed contains high amounts of each of these nutrients.
Inadequate amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs could put your health at risk. EFAs may help lower the chance of heart disease by decreasing high blood fat and lowering blood pressure. Insufficient amounts can enhance inflammation. When you increase your intake of this nutrient, it can help reduce inflammation in joints and can aleviate pain from those that may suffer from arthritis.
Lignans are one of the major compounds of phytoestrogen, which have estrogen-like chemicals. Lignans have been showing promise in the fight against certain types of cancer such as; colon, breast, and prostate cancer. Studies have shown that women who have an increased source of lignans in their diet, reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. In prostate cancer, testosterone is what helps fuel the tumor growth. Researchers now believe lignans can attach to testosterone and halt the growth of tumor cells, thus keeping them from multiplying. Lignans can also aid in the prevention of bone loss and can help stabilize and restore hormonal levels in women. Lower BMI's and total body fat mass tend to be found in women that consume increased amounts of lignans in their diets.
Flax seed is high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The fiber in the flax seed is a key factor in maintaining the cholesterol-lowering effect. Also, having a diet high in fiber helps balance blood sugar levels and alleviates constipation.
Safety and Side effects
When you begin taking flax seed, it is a good idea to start with a very small amount and gradually increase. Large amounts may lead to cramping and a "laxative effect". Too much of anything can be bad.
Flax seeds are highly saturated and should be stored properly in an airtight container to prevent oxidation. Flax meal should be kept away from heat and light while flax oil needs to be refrigerated and kept in a dark container. Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for a year.
Although flax seeds contain small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides compounds, like some other food plants and seeds, studies maintain it is safe at normal levels. Two tablespoons are considered a safe amount. If you are using flax seed in baking and cooking, the heat can eliminate these cyanogenic compounds.
Flax seeds can be used in a variety of different foods. Ground flax seeds can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal and yogurt. You could use them when preparing hamburgers, meatloaf or add them to a smoothie or a milk shake. The possibilities are endless.
Flax seed consumption, in one form or another, is increasing in popularity because of mounting evidence of it's amazing health benefits. There is an enormous amount of information out there on this subject. I have tried to cover the high points but flax seeds do so much more than what I have listed here. There are many benefits in taking this nutrient and I think we have just scratched the surface on what it can do for us and our health.