Flaxseed has been used for many years for making linen. It’s also known as linseed, one
of the ingredients in paint. The closest it came to being food was its use for livestock feed.
It’s only about a decade ago that science discovered the many health benefits of flaxseed.
Flaxseed is a rich plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Apart from supporting good vision,
omega-3 also fight weight gain by increasing metabolic rate and they protect against
cancer growth. Flaxseed contains a different type of omega-3 than fish. This type reduces
the incidence of blood clotting, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
In addition, the omega-3 also appears to help prevent atherosclerosis, increase good HDL
cholesterol, lower levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.
They may also help to reduce depression.
Apart from omega-3, flaxseed is also a rich source of compounds called lignans.
While many plant foods contain lignans, flaxseed contains by far the most, at least 75 times
more than any other plant food. For example, you have to eat 60 cups of fresh broccoli
or 100 slices of whole-wheat bread to get the same amount of lignans in ¼ cup of flaxseed.
Lignans are important because of their powerful antioxidant properties to help blocking the cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
Food rich in lignans can lower the risk of heart disease. A Finnish study of almost 2,000 men found that those men with the highest lignan intake were significantly less likely to die from heart disease than those with the lowest intake.
Flaxseed also shows some potential of reversing kidney damage caused by lupus.
A condition by which the immune system produces harmful substances that attack and
damage healthy tissues.
When researchers at the University of Western Ontario gave flaxseed to nine people with
lupus related kidney disease, they discovered that several kidney functions, including
the ability to filter waste, quickly improved. The researchers believe that the lignans and
omega-3 in flaxseed fight inflammation in the tiny, very fragile arteries that supply blood
to the kidneys, helping reduce the artery-clogging process that can lead to kidney damage.
Apart from the health benefits of the lignans in flaxseeds to protect your heart, they also
fight cancer in your body. Lignans subdue cancerous changes once’s they have occurred,making them less likely to run out of control and develop into full-blown cancer.
Studies at the University of Toronto shows some promise for battling certain types of
cancer, in particular preventing typical female cancers, like breast- and ovarian cancer.
Two additional properties of the omega-3 in flaxseed, apart from its cancer-fighting power,
is the ability of limiting the body’s production of chemicals called prostaglandins.
The importance of prostaglandins is that they speed up tumor growth in large amounts.
To top it all up, flaxseed is also very high in fiber. Three table spoons of seeds contains
three grams of fiber, which is about twelve percent of the Daily Value.
The important role of fiber in your diet is the ability to block the harmful effects of
compounds that over time may cause changes in the intestine that can lead to cancer.
Whole flaxseed provide little benefit. Flaxseed is the one food that provide more
nutritional benefits when processed. So instead, buy the cracked or milled forms, which
readily give up the nutritious goodness packed inside.
Don’t buy the oil. Most of the lignans in flaxseed are found in the non-oil part of the seed.
While the oil may contain some lignans, it doesn’t provide as much as the other healthful
compounds found in the seeds, such as fiber, protein and minerals.