Fabulous Flax... the Superfood!

Flax is an ancient seed that has been used in the diets of humans for thousand of years. In 400 BC the father of medicine Hippocrates used flax to treat his patients. “Let them eat flax!” was his simple prescription!

In the 8th century, flax was believed to be so important for health that the medieval King Charlemagne passed laws requiring his subjects to consume flax regularly.

Today, nutritionists, consumers and scientists are rediscovering perhaps one of the original ‘health foods’ and the tremendous health benefits of flax. “Flax is a nutritional powerhouse and a super-healing food.”*

Health Benefits of Flax Seed

Flax promotes cardiovascular health.
The ultra-high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in flax lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. They also help keep arteries flexible and pliable, reduce inflammation and help prevent the buildup of harmful deposits in arteries.

Flax promotes colon health and prevents cancer.
Flax is high in fiber and, with the essential fatty acids fats in flax, acts as a natural lubricant that promotes regular bowel movements and lowers the risk of constipation. Flax is also one of the richest plant sources of lignans, compounds that appear to have anti-cancer properties to help protect against certain kinds of cancer, in particular colon and breast, by blocking tumor formation.

Flax aids in weight management.
Fats high in essential fatty acids, such as those in flax, increase the body’s metabolic rate and support thermogenesis, helping to burn excess unhealthy fats in the body. The high content of fiber in flax means there are fewer calories relative to the total weight of the food consumed. Ground flax helps satisfy hunger and cravings: soluble fiber is absorbed more slowly which means we feel fuller for a longer period of time; cravings are reduced because flax assists with stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Flax may lessen severity of diabetes.
The high content of fibre and Omega-3 essential fatty acids in flax have been found to assist in lowering and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Flax boosts immunity and fights inflammation.
Research has found that flax favourably affects the body’s ability to defend itself. The Omega-3 essential fatty acid and lignans affect immune cells and the immune reaction. In fact, Omega –3 and lignans have been found to help prevent inflammation and may be useful in the treatment of such immune disorders as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus.

Flax helps lessen depression.
Studies show that many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to nutrient and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Omega – 3 essential fatty acids and the minerals and vitamins in flax are mood-boosting ingredients that are essential for the proper function of brain cells.

Flax promotes healthy skin and cells.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential in cell membrane development and healthy cell growth. This is especially important when a child’s brain is developing - in-utero and during infancy.

Flax may lessen symptoms of menopause.
Flax is the richest known plant source of phytoestrogens which are estrogen-like substances that can help to stabilize hormone levels and help lessen the symptoms of menopause.

The Rich Nutrients in Flaxseed

Many have heard about Omega 3 in flax but flaxseeds contain other nutrients which make eating the ground whole seed superior to consuming just the extracted oil:
Essential fatty acids like Omega 3 - About 42% of flaxseed is oil. More than 70% of the oil is polyunsaturated fat, a healthy fat. The essential fatty acid Omega 3 (ALA) comprises about 57% of the total fatty acids in flax.
Fibre - soluble and insoluble - Soluble fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels, while insoluble fiber moves the stool through the colon more quickly.
Protein - one of the most nutritious of the plant proteins providing many of the essential aminoacids, the body’s building blocks.
Lignans - Phytoestrogens - Flax is one of the richest plant sources of lignans.
Other Phytochemicals - such as flavanoids and phenolic acid that appear to have antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties.
Vitamins and Minerals – Flax contains many of the B vitamins, Vitamin E, and many minerals such as potassium, selenium, zinc, iron, calcium and more.

 

*Siegfried Gursche, Fantastic Flax, 1999; p.6

Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for self-diagnosis nor self-treatment of conditions that should be interpreted and managed by a qualified health care provider.