Flax Seeds facts and health benefits

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Flax Seeds facts and health benefits

Flax seeds Quick Facts
Name: Flax seeds
Scientific Name: Linum usitatissimum
Origin Native to regions of the Middle East and India.
Shapes Round, dry capsule 5–9 mm in diameter
Taste Nutty yet pleasantly sweet Taste
Calories 1927 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Total Fat (622.74%)
Vitamin K (16.92%)
Vitamin E (6.80%)
Zinc (1.36%)
Protein (0.48%)
Health benefits Beneficial for Cancer, Weight Loss, Good for Heart Health, Digestive Health, Menopausal Symptoms, Help with immune disorders, Blood Pressure, Healthy Skin and Hair, Diabetes, High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs, Blood Cholesterol, Inflammation,Treating acne, eczema, psoriasis,Promoting healthy hair and nails, Minimize nerve damage, Crohn’s Disease,Post-Menopausal Women, Fight prostate problems, Eye Health, Reduces Eczema, Treats Sjogren’s syndrome
More facts about Flax seeds
Flax (also known as common flax or linseed), Linum usitatissimum, 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 and are native to regions of the Middle East and India. The ancient Egyptians used flaxseed as both food and medicine. The word “flax” may refer to the unspun fibers of the flax plant. It is one of the ancient cultivated crops since Mesopotamian times and is grown for its oil seeds and fiber. Its chewy seeds are packed with nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins. Recently, health benefits of flax have widely drawn the attention of nutrition researchers as well as health enthusiasts alike across the planet. In general, there exist two common cultivars of flax; one is mostly grown for its oil seeds and the other variety for fiber. Canada and China are the greatest manufacturers of flax.

Plant

Flax seed is Erect, Annual or Perennial plant growing up to 1.2 m (3 ft. 11 in) tall. It flourishes well both in tropical as well as subtropical climates and thrives in deep moist soils rich in sand, silt, and clay. The plant has strong taproot that can grow to the depth of 3 to 4 feet. It has erect, slender stem with multiple branches on top of the plant. Leaves are glaucous green, simple, slender lanceolate with smooth edges, 20–40 mm long and 3 mm broad alternately arranged on the stem. Flowers are pure pale blue, 15–25 mm in diameter, with five petals.

Fruit

Flax fruit pod is a round, dry capsule 5–9 mm diameter, containing several brown or golden-yellow seeds (depending on cultivar type). Its seeds feature smooth, glossy surface and flat shape that somewhat appear like sesame seeds, but quite larger, measuring about 5–7 mm in length. Seeds are usually yellow, greenish, green-brownish, brown or very dark (almost black) depending on cultivar type. It has mild nutty flavor and nutty yet pleasantly sweet taste. The seeds are commonly consumed in one of three ways: whole seed, ground seed (powder or meal), or flaxseed oil.

History

The history of flaxseeds dates back to the prehistoric era. It is thought to have originated from Mesopotamia and is also related to Stone Ages. Its first culinary use was documented from the times of ancient Greece. The civilizations of both Greece and Rome appreciated the health advantages of flaxseeds. After the fall of the Roman civilization, the cultivation of flaxseeds deteriorated. Emperor Charlemagne was recognized for bringing back the lost popularity of flaxseeds within the European food culture. It is stated that he was so surprised by the multipurpose values of the plant in the field of culinary, medication as well as fiber-use that he passed a law for its cultivation along with its regular usage. Flaxseeds were introduced in United States once the arrival of early colonists. It was initially introduced and grown in Canada within the 17th century. Today, Canada is definitely the biggest producer of the flaxseeds, followed by China and India.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their nutty yet pleasantly sweet taste, flaxseed oil is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 218 gram of flaxseed oil offers 217.96 g of Total Fat, 20.3 µg of Vitamin K, 1.02 mg of Vitamin E, 0.15 mg of Zinc, 0.24 g of Protein, 2 mg of Phosphorus, 2 mg of Calcium and 0.4 mg of Choline.

Health benefits of Flax seeds

The therapeutic as well as beneficial properties of consuming flaxseed aren’t yet completely recognized, and numerous claims still lack “high-quality” research to back them up. However, increasing research suggest that flaxseed may certainly be the wonder food lots of people claim it to be. The health benefits related to flaxseed include:

1. Beneficial for Cancer

Test tube and animal research have shown that flaxseeds suppress the formation of several types of cancer like colon, breast, skin and lung cancer.

Increased blood levels of sex hormones have been related with an increased risk of several cancers. Flaxseeds may modestly lower serum levels of sex hormones in overweight women, and decrease the risk of breast cancer. Similarly consumption of flaxseeds has also been shown to have protective effects against prostate cancer.(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9)

2. Good for Heart Health

Early research found that flax seeds may aid in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. They may also keep platelets from becoming sticky, thus decreasing the risk of a heart attack.

3. Digestive Health

Diarrhea and constipation are actually a major distress and may even threaten health. About 2–7% of people in the USA suffer from chronic diarrhea, while reoccurring constipation affects 12–19% of the population. This rate can be as high as 27% in Europe, with women at twice the risk of men.

Several researches have found that flaxseeds actually prevent both diarrhea and constipation. The content of insoluble fiber in flaxseeds adds bulk to the digestive waste, acting as a laxative and relieving constipation. It has also been proposed that the soluble fiber binds to water in the digestive tract. This causes it to swell and increase the bulk of the stool, thus preventing diarrhea.(10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17)

4. Menopausal Symptoms

Lignans found in the flax is shown to have benefits for menopausal women. It can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy since lignans do have estrogenic properties.

These properties help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help menstruating women by helping maintain cycle regularity. To experience the flax seed benefits for your hormones include 1-2 tbsp of flax meal in a breakfast smoothie along with 1 tbsp of flax seed oil.

5. Weight Loss

Flaxseeds are actually a useful part of a weight loss diet. They contain soluble fiber, which becomes highly sticky when mixed with water.

This fiber has been shown to be effective at suppressing hunger and cravings, possibly promoting weight loss.

Research on weight loss diets showed that flaxseeds decreased inflammatory markers by 25–46%, compared to weight loss diets without them.(18), (19), (20)

6. Help with immune disorders

Flaxseed consists of considerable amount of Lignans and ALA which help to reduce inflammation that affects the body’s immune system. Thus, flaxseed is beneficial in reducing the risk of such immune disorders as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

7. Blood Pressure

Flaxseeds are effective at lowering blood pressure than any other food. In a six-month research of people with high blood pressure, the systolic blood pressure (SBP) was reduced by 10 mmHg. In this same research, the diastolic pressure (DBP) was reduced by 7 mmHg.

Patients who entered the study with an SBP greater than 140 mmHg experienced a reduction of 15 mmHg. A 7 mmHg reduction in DBP was also noted.

For each 5 mmHg reduction in SBP, and for each 2–5 mmHg reduction in DBP, the risk of stroke has been estimated to be reduced by 11–13%. The risk of heart disease is reduced by 34%.(21), (22), (23), (24), (25), (26), (27), (28)

8. Healthy Skin and Hair

Regular consumption of about 2 tbsp of flax seeds to your smoothie or 1 tbsp of flax seed oil is quite beneficial for getting healthier skin, hair and nails.

The ALA fats in flax seeds benefits the skin and hair by providing essential fats as well as b-vitamins which help reduce dryness and flakiness. Additionally it can improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema. This also applies to eye health as flax can reduce dry eye syndrome.

Flax seed oil is another great option since it has higher concentration of healthy fats. You can take 1-2 tbsp internally to hydrate skin and hair.  It can also be mixed with essential oils and used as a natural skin moisturizer.

9. Diabetes

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 10 adults had diabetes in the year 2012. In people with type 2 diabetes, research show that supplementing 10–20 g/day of flaxseed powder for 1–2 months may reduce fasting blood sugar by up to 19.7%.

However, not all research has found flaxseeds to be effective in regulating blood glucose and insulin levels. Although the link between flaxseeds and type 2 diabetes is still unclear, they are considered a safe and healthy addition to the diet for individuals with type 2 diabetes.(29), (30), (31), (32), (33)

10. High in Fiber, but Low in Carbs

Flax seeds consist of high levels of mucilage gum content.  Mucilage is actually a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract.

Mucilage helps to keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine which increases nutrient absorption.

Moreover, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. You should consume 30-40 g of high fiber foods daily.

11. Blood Cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Research has shown that the daily consumption of flaxseeds, or flaxseed oil, help to lower cholesterol levels by 6–11%. These researches have also shown a 9–18% reduction in the number of LDL particles. This is supported by animal research showing that flaxseeds may lower cholesterol levels and improve the composition of blood fats.

Flaxseeds is quite beneficial useful when consumed with cholesterol-lowering medication. In one 12-month research, flaxseeds caused an additional 8.5% reduction in LDL-cholesterol, when compared to those not consuming flaxseeds. This cholesterol-lowering effect is believed to be caused by the high fiber and lignan content found in flaxseeds.

The fiber and lignans bind with cholesterol-rich bile acids and carry them down the digestive tract. This help to reduce cholesterol levels in the body.(34), (35), (36), (37), (38), (39), (40), (41), (42), (43), (44), (45)

Health benefits of Flaxseed Oil

Flax seed Oil also known as Linseed oil, has a rich source of healing compounds and has been cultivated for more than 7000 years. First cultivated in Europe, the plant’s brown seeds were frequently used to prepare balms for inflamed skin and healing slurries for constipation. Rich in essential fatty acids, or EFAs, flaxseed oil is used to prevent and treat heart disease and to relieve a variety of inflammatory disorders and hormone-related problems like infertility. Listed below are few of the health benefits of flaxseed oil

1. Inflammation

Flaxseed oil is quite beneficial to prevent various forms of inflammation in the body, including the natural aches and pains in the joints and muscles, as well as more serious conditions like arthritis and even gout! Flaxseed oil is a natural anti-inflammation agent, so include it in the diet if you suffer from these types of conditions.(46)

2. Treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea

Essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil are mostly responsible for its skin-healing powers. Red, itchy patches of eczema, psoriasis and rosacea often respond to the EFA’s anti-inflammatory actions and overall skin-soothing properties. Sunburned skin may heal faster when treated with the oil as well. In cases of acne, the EFAs encourage thinning of the oily sebum that clogs pores.

3. Promoting healthy hair and nails

Flaxseed oil consists of good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to contribute to healthy hair growth (in fact, low levels of these acids may cause dry and lackluster locks). Normally hair problems exacerbated by psoriasis or eczema of the scalp may respond to the skin-revitalizing and anti-inflammatory actions of flaxseed oil as well. Similarly, the oil’s EFAs are quite beneficial to nourish dry or brittle nails, preventing them from cracking or splitting.

4. Minimizing nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling as well as other disorders

EFAs found in flaxseed oil help in the transmission of nerve impulses, making the oil possibly valuable in dealing with numbness and tingling. The oil’s nerve-nourishing actions help in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system, and protect against the nerve damage related with diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

5. Crohn’s Disease

Although we have already covered some of the gastrointestinal benefits of flaxseed oil, Crohn’s disease is a health condition that bothers people all around the world. Flaxseed oil research has shown a positive connection between the inflammation of the colon and intestinal tract with consumption of this oil.(47)

6. Post-Menopausal Women

After women go through menopause, their bodies change in dramatic ways, mainly in the balance of their hormones, such as estrogen. Lignans in flaxseed oil, secoisolariciresinol, matairecinol, and pinoresinol, have a dramatic effect on the hormonal balance, thus helping many post-menopausal women function better and struggle less with the fluctuations of estrogen in their bodies.(48)

7. Fighting prostate problems, male infertility and impotence

Flax seed oil consists of huge amount of EFAs which help to prevent swelling and inflammation of the prostate, the small gland located below the bladder in males that tends to enlarge with age. Symptoms of such enlargement like urgency to urinate may lessen as a result. Apart from that EFAs also play a role in keeping sperm healthy, which may be of value in treating male infertility, and can improve blood flow to the penis, a boon for those suffering from impotence.

8. Eye Health

Some of the hormones in flaxseed affect the amount of fluid in your eyes, which can be a very bothersome condition. Dry eyes can be prevented with consistent use of flaxseed oil in the diet. It can also prevent more serious forms of this condition, such as Sjogren’s syndrome.(49)

9. Reduces Eczema

Eczema is actually a common skin disorder that causes dry, red, itchy skin that can blister or crack. It’s usually caused by an allergic response to foods, chemicals or other substances, like perfumes or soaps. In addition to avoiding unhealthy skincare products, you can also greatly improve eczema through your diet. Essential fatty acids help improve skin elasticity and texture, making flaxseed oil one of the top choices for improved skin health.(50)

10. Treats Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is a disorder of the immune system recognized by its two most common symptoms dry eyes and a dry mouth. Several researches to date have recommended various potential associations between diets and tear film health. Results showed that therapy with oral flaxseed oil capsules (one or two grams per day) reduced eye surface inflammation and improved the symptoms of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) in Sjogren’s syndrome patients.(51)

How to Eat

  • Sprinkle flaxseed on your cold cereal or hot oatmeal at breakfast.
  • Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to the mustard or mayonnaise that you spread on your sandwich at lunch.
  • Blend flaxseed into juice or smoothies.
  • Sprinkle on salads or in soups.
  • Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your yogurt.
  • Add flax to tomato sauces or to casseroles.
  • Add flaxseed to meatballs or meatloaf.
  • Flaxseed sprouts are edible, with a slightly spicy flavor.
  • Flaxseed, called tisi or alsi, is traditionally roasted, powdered, and eaten with boiled rice, a little water, and a little salt in Northern India.

Other Traditional uses and benefits of Flax seed

  • Hippocrates used flaxseed for relief of intestinal discomfort.
  • Constipation: Take 3 tablespoons of flax seeds as well as grind them in regular coffee grinder.Add one tablespoon to a glass of warm water, and continue this once each morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening.Continue doing this for 3 days.
  • For diabetes, arthritis, gall disorders, and heart ailments: Combine 4 oz. of cottage cheese with 1.5 oz. of flax seed oil and 1 oz. of milk in a blender. Add honey or fresh fruits to include sweetness. Combine this mix as well as drink daily every morning.

Other Facts

  • Flax is grown for its oil, used as a nutritional supplement, and as an ingredient in many wood-finishing products.
  • Flax is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.
  • Flax fibers are used to make linen.
  • Egyptians used linen (made from flax seed) to wrap their mummies.
  • Flax oil is used in the industry of paints, varnishes and printing inks.
  • Leftovers of seed (after oil extraction) are used as animal feed.

How to Buy Flaxseeds

  • Flaxseeds can be found in both whole as well as ground forms. Whilst the ground form is best to utilize, the whole seeds have got a longer life expectancy.
  • You can purchase flaxseeds in both prepackaged containers or even bulk bins. If purchasing in bulk, bear in mind to see if the bins carrying flaxseeds are air-tight as well as protected.
  • It is advisable that you purchase flaxseeds from a store with a high turnover because it will make sure optimum freshness of the seeds.
  • While purchasing flaxseeds in either ways, check for signs and symptoms of moisture. Don’t buy in case the package signifies moisture.
  • If you’re purchasing ground flaxseeds, get them in vacuum sealed packs to see whether they have been refrigerated since the time they were ground.
  • Since flaxseed oil is extremely disposable, it ought to be bought just in opaque bottles.

Flaxseeds Storage Tips

  • If you’ve bought whole flaxseeds, keep them in air-tight containers in the cool, dark as well as dry place. In this way, they’ll remain fresh and could be ingested for an extended period.
  • If you’ve bought ground flaxseeds or ground them in your own home, it’s important that you store them in a air-tight package in the refrigerator or even freezer in order to avoid them from becoming rancid.

How to eat Flax Seeds

It is best to grind the flax seeds instead of consuming them whole, since the lignans be more effective absorbed by the body if it’s consumed in the ground form. Make an effort to take lots of water together with the flax seed powder.

Get a food processor or even blender, even your coffee grinder will work. Get a packet of regular whole flax seed available for sale, bear in mind that once you open the packet, the seeds should be stored in the airtight container simply because flax seeds usually tend to turn rancid.

Grind one cup of flax at any given time as well as refrigerate the powder instantly and then try to utilize it up with per week. Don’t start too fast and take about 2 table spoons every day in empty stomach for some weeks and allow your body get accustomed to it, and look out for any negative effects like nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating as well as stomach pain. If things seem fine, then start adding it in your fruit salads, fruit smoothies as well as yogurt.

Delicious Methods to Include More Flax Seeds in Your Diet

Numerous commercial food items now include flax seeds, which includes bread, cereal, and bakery goods. Bakers occasionally utilize flax seed flour or consist of flax seeds in baking too. Definitely, flax seeds could be included with a number of homemade dishes!

  • Sprinkle coarsely ground flax seeds in your cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or even salad.
  • Substitute flax seed meal or even flour for eggs in home baking, like muffins and pancakes (1 tbsp milled flax seed plus 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). The final product may have less volume as well as taste gummier.
  • Combine breadcrumbs as well as coarsely ground flax seeds; utilize the mixture to coat fish or even chicken.
  • Mix toasted flax seeds into homemade granola bars or even trail mix.
  • Toss flax seeds in your morning smoothie, together with banana, milk, along with a touch of honey.

Flax Seed Side Effects

They say overdoing things is not good. With regards to flax seed, many people can experience a few health issues rather than benefits. For this reason specialists say that it is best to consume flax seed in small quantities instead of taking in it in big amounts. Take a look at probably the most commonly observed negative effects of flax seed mentioned below.

1. Indigestion

Consuming too much of flax seed may cause indigestion and result in signs and symptoms just like bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence and cramps. In reality, individuals who begin ingesting flax seed, as well as introduce it for the first time within their diet, mostly have problems with indigestion.

2. Obstruction in Digestive Tract

Another side-effect of flax seed is it may cause substantial blockage within the digestive system and also the throat of the person. This occurs especially in cases in which individuals consume it within the powdered form. Flax seed has a tendency to swell up whenever consumed as well as has a tendency to get stuck in the digestive tract creating a blockage, therefore you should consume a lot of water whilst consuming it to avoid this side effect.

3. Laxative Effects on the Body

Flax seed has a laxative effect on the body since it has a tendency to boost the bowel motions of the person which can lead to diarrhea. As a result, if you suffer from from particular intestinal problems just like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), stomach ulcers, Crohn’s disease, then it is recommended not to consume flax seed.

4. Bleeding in the Brain

In rare cases, the usage of this seed may stimulate bleeding within the brain. This is known as hemorrhagic stroke, clinically. The classic symptoms consist of alterations in vision, weakness, feeling of numbness in limbs, severe headache and alterations in speech.

5. Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastrointestinal bleeding can also be among the extreme negative effects of flaxseed oil pills. This might be shown by black or tarry stools. In some instances, there can be a tiny bit of bright red blood within the stool.

6. Other Blood Disorders

Usage of flax seed also will make a person vulnerable to have problems with blood related difficulties. For this reason specialists advice individuals with bleeding disorders, or even people those who are consuming blood thinners, not to go for flax seed as it has a tendency to boost blood clotting. Additionally it is not preferable to include this in your daily diet in case you are about to go for some dental or surgical procedure.

7. Allergic Reaction

Some people might be affected from hives, swelling, wheezing and trouble breathing after taking the flaxseed oil or even the seed. These flaxseed side effects are a symbol of an allergic reaction. Flaxseed is known to reduce the process of blood clotting and therefore, this particular boosts the chance of heavy bleeding and simple bruising.

8. Toxicity

Do not eat raw or even unripe flaxseed. Flaxseed in these forms is believed to be toxic.Avoid using flaxseed oil to cook because the heat changes the healthy fat into toxic fat which causes harm. Instead, many people discover that including the oil into a dish which is already cooked can boost the flavor as well as add numerous advantageous nutrition to the diet.

9. Pregnancy and Breast-feeding

Taking flaxseed orally while pregnant might well be UNSAFE. Flaxseed can behave like the hormone estrogen. Several healthcare providers worry that this might harm the pregnancy, even though to date there isn’t any reliable clinical evidence in regards to the effects of flaxseed on pregnancy outcomes. The effect of flaxseed on breast-fed infants is unknown at the moment. Remain on the safe side, and don’t utilize flaxseed if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

10. Diabetes

There is several proof that flaxseed can reduce blood sugar levels and may boost the blood sugar-lowering effects of some medicines utilized for diabetes. There exists a concern that blood sugar might drop too low. In case you have diabetes and utilize flaxseed, monitor your blood sugar levels carefully.

11. Hormone-sensitive cancers or conditions

Because flaxseed may well act somewhat just like the hormone estrogen, there is some concern that flaxseed may make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. A few of these conditions consist of breast, uterine, as well as ovarian cancer; endometriosis; and uterine fibroids. However, some earlier laboratory as well as animal studies suggest that flaxseed could possibly oppose estrogen and can be protective against hormone-dependent cancer. Still, until more is famous, avoid unneccessary use of flaxseed in case you have a hormone-sensitive condition.

12. High triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia)

Partially defatted flaxseed (flaxseed with less alpha linolenic acid content) might boost triglyceride levels. In case your triglyceride levels are extremely high, don’t take flaxseed.

13. Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Flaxseeds may possibly reduce diastolic blood pressure. In theory, taking flaxseeds may cause blood pressure to become too low in people with low blood pressure.

14. High blood pressure (hypertension)

Flaxseeds may possibly reduce diastolic blood pressure. Theoretically, taking flaxseeds could cause blood pressure to be too low in people with high blood pressure who’re taking blood pressure-lowering medicine.

15. Other Health Conditions

Apart from the previously mentioned negative effects, other possible negative effects of consuming flax seed consist of, allergic reactions, changes in the menstrual cycle in females, as flax seed also affects the estrogen levels in your body leading to hormonal imbalance. Several state that flax seed also triggers thyroid problems in individuals. Therefore, you have to talk to your doctor regarding your individual health condition and also the doses are secure to consume, if you need to consume it at all!

References:

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https://www.pbrc.edu/training-and-education/pdf/pns/pns_flaxseed.pdf

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http://www.encyclopedia.com/science-and-technology/chemistry/organic-chemistry/flaxseeds

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