Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) (binomial name: Linum usitatissimum) is a member of the genus Linum in the familyLinaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent.
Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Ethiopia and ancient Egypt. In a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia, dyed flax fibers have been found that date to 30,000 BC. New Zealand flax is not related to flax but was named after it, as both plants are used to produce fibers.
Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which has uses as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. The inca also used this to create bowstring.
Flaxseed oil is derived from flax seeds and is a cold pressed oil that can be used in salads, cooking, or simply taken alone as a supplement. It has become more popular in recent years, as more people are making the shift towards natural and whole food living. Eating a variety of foods, taking supplements, and eating more raw and natural foods is becoming more common than fad diets and extreme eating programs that eliminate important nutrients..
Due to its polymer-forming properties, linseed oil is used on its own or blended with other oils, resins, and solvents as an impregnator and varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty and in the manufacture of linoleum. The use of linseed oil has declined over the past several decades with the increased use of synthetic alkyd resins, which are functionally similar that resist yellowing. It is an edible oil but, because of its strong flavor and odor, is only a minor constituent of human nutrition, although it is marketed as a nutritional supplement.
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are a valuable resource for Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and both provide quality protein, lignans, and natural fiber along with a generous serving of essential fatty acids. Flaxseed Oil can be ingested alone or mixed with other foods for balanced nutrition. You'll find it at many natural or organic grocery stores, vitamin supplement shops online, and even some pharmacies. Flaxseed was commonly found in bread, grains and cereals during the Middle Ages, but was removed from most households after simple wheat and corn cereals entered the market. The oil and seeds need to be kept refrigerated in order to stay fresh.
Help improve the digestive system by encouraging natural elimination processes and clearing out toxins from the body. The fiber in each serving of flax seeds may also contribute to healthy intestinal flora, preventing disease and illness related to unhealthy bacteria in the body. Many people who are dealing with constipation, a weak digestive system, or just need to get started on a detox can benefit from ingesting flaxseed oil each day.
Flaxseed oil provides essential protein for the body, and works and is considered to be a complete amino acid. Complete amino acids are essential for a healthy metabolism and can also help with the absorption of nutrients. Flax seed protein is easy to digest and absorb, and can easily be mixed with cereals or other foods. This high-quality protein source can help maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails, along with providing a steady source of energy.
Lignans are a naturally occurring anti-bacterial nutrient, and are found in many plant-based foods. Flaxseed oil contains a large amount of lignans per serving, and this serves as a both an antioxidant and anti-cancer agent. While many foods have antioxidant properties, flaxseed oil offers a convenient and simple solution.
The essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil are the principal reason why this health food needs to be a part of every diet. Alpha linoeic acid (ALA) is necessary for athletes and bodybuilders since it keeps muscle cells healthy and prevents inflammation of joints. This is also why many people with arthritis can benefit from flaxseed oil; the anti-inflammatory properties of ALA can help reduce the need for arthritis medication and other supplements.
Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
Researchers suggest that consuming flaxseed oil on a regular basis can help with:
• Preventing acne and breakouts
• Balancing hormones
• Reducing cholesterol
• Prevent plaque formation in the arteries and keeping arteries healthy
• Improving the body's natural response to stress
• Improve cases of arthritis, since flaxseed oil acts as a natural joint lubricant
• Prevent injury in athletes and bodybuilders
• Improve digestion and elimination
• Improve the health of skin, hair, and nails because of its natural protein and fat content
• Improving cognition, memory, and concentration-it's often considered to be a brain boosting food
• Reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and other aging diseases
• Preventing toxic buildup in the bowels
Flax seeds are an excellent source of fiber. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. They also contain a special fiber called mucilage. Mucilage helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and is a natural laxative.
Dietary fiber is important because it keeps the digestive system functioning properly. It enhances our body's ability to use other dietary nutrients. Fiber goes through our digestive tract almost completely undigested. Once it reaches the colon and/or the large intestine, fiber is then broken down.
Dieting lacking sufficient fiber can lead to:
Chronic Constipation (That can't be fun)
Weight Control problems
Lignans are natural plant chemicals. Flax seeds are the richest source of lignans. Lignans boost the productions of a substance attached to estrogen and carries it out of the body.
Researchers also believe lignans to have antioxidant properties. Flax seed has 75 to 800 percent more lignans than other vegetables and grains! Making flax seed worth the investment.
Vitamins and Minerals
The vitamins and minerals found in flax seeds are zinc, iron, vitamin E, carotene, B-group vitamins, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silicon, copper, nickel, molybdenum, chromium, and cobalt.
For every 100 grams of flax seeds, you get about 25-30 grams of protein, which is great considering the other nutrients you get along with this.
Flax seed is one of the best sources for the essential fatty acid alpha linolenic acid. Alpha linolenic acid is so important for bodybuilders because it "enhances insulin sensitivity within muscle cells."
Flaxseed and Omega 3
Many people think that taking a fish oil supplement is all they need to get their daily dose of omega 3s. However, there are several types of Omega 3 fatty acids that play a distinct role in the body:
• Alpha linolenic acid (ALA)
• Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA)
• Docosahexanoic acid (DHA)
ALA is the Omega 3 found in flaxseed oil, and it can convert into EPA and DHA after efficient processing in the body. However, those who have weak metabolisms often have difficulty with this conversion process. As a result, fish oils are high in EPA and DHA, and may be a more valuable solution for some. Taking both a fish oil supplement and flaxseed oil is the best way to ensure maximum nutrition.
The body requires a certain level of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids to maintain good health, and supplements are available to meet daily requirements. Omega 3 essential fatty acids can prevent a variety of health problems and can even help fight cancer. People with skin problems such as acne and psoriasis can benefit from an increase of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the diet because it helps to replenish moisture and natural oils needed for balance. While supplements are readily available in a variety of forms, the body absorbs and assimilates these fats much more efficiently when they are consumed from everyday foods.
Benefits of including some flaxseed in your diet
Control constipation, haemorrhoids, diverticular disorders and gallstones.
Because they are high in dietary fibre, ground flaxseeds can help ease the passage of stools and thus relieve constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease. In those with diverticular disease, flaxseeds may also keep intestinal pouches free of waste and thus keep potential infection at bay. Taken for inflammatory bowel disease, flaxseed oil can help to calm inflammation and repair any intestinal tract damage. In addition, the oil may prevent painful gallstones from developing and even dissolve existing stones.
Treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea.
The essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil are largely 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. ** Promote healthy hair and nails:** The abundant omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil have been shown to contribute to healthy hair growth (in fact, low levels of these acids may cause dry and lackluster locks). 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 work to nourish dry or brittle nails, stopping them from cracking or splitting.
Minimise nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling as well as other disorders.
The EFAs in flaxseed oil assist in the transmission of nerve impulses, making the oil potentially valuable in treating conditions of numbness and tingling. The oil's nerve-nourishing actions may also help in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system, and protect against the nerve damage associated with diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Reduce cancer risk and guard against the effects of ageing.
The lignans in flaxseed oil appear to play a role in protecting against breast, colon, prostate, and perhaps skin cancer. Although further studies are needed, research undertaken at the University of Toronto indicates that women with breast cancer, regardless of the degree of cancer invasiveness, may benefit from treatment with flaxseed oil. Interestingly, the oil's lignans may protect against various effects of ageing as well.
Treat menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, female infertility and endometriosis.
Because the hormone-balancing lignans and plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) in flaxseed oil help stabilise a woman's estrogen-progesterone ratio, they can have beneficial effects on the menstrual cycle, and relieve the hot flashes of perimenopause and menopause. Flaxseed oil may also improve uterine function and thus treat fertility problems. In addition, the essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil have been shown to block production of prostaglandins, hormonelike substances that, when released in excess amounts during menstruation, can cause the heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis.
Fight prostate problems, male infertility and impotence.
The EFAs in flaxseed oil may 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, such as urgency to urinate, may lessen as a result. The EFAs also play a role in keeping sperm healthy, which may be of value in treating male infertility, and they can improve blood flow to the penis, a boon for those suffering from impotence.
- Take flaxseed oil with food, which enhances absorption by the body. But don't cook with it, because heat breaks down its nutrients; rather, add it to foods after they're cooked. You can also mix it with juice, yogurt, cottage cheese, or other foods and drinks.
- Buy oil that is packaged in brown glass bottle. Even though it's more expensive, "cold pressed" oil is preferable; when oils are heated during processing, their nutrients are damaged by oxidation.
- Flaxseed oil spoils quickly, so always check the expiry date on the label. To ensure freshness, keep it refrigerated. Don't use oil that has a strong or pungent odor.
- Capsules are a costly way to take the oil: about five are needed to equal 1tsp of oil. But capsules may sometimes be more convenient.
Liquid flaxseed oil is the easiest way to get a therapeutic amount, which ranges from 1 tsp to 1Tbsp once or twice a day. To get just 1tsp of the oil in capsule form, you'll need to swallow about 5 capsules, each containing 1000mg of oil.
For flaxseed fiber, mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds with a glass of water and drink it up to three times a day; the treatment may take a day or so to act.
Some people are allergic to flaxseed. If you experience difficulty in breathing after taking the supplement, seek immediate medical attention.
Always take ground flaxseed with plenty of water (a large glass per Tbsp) to prevent it from swelling up and blocking your throat or digestive tract.
Flaxseed oil is also called linseed oil - but never ingests the industrial varieties sold at hardware shops. They are not intended for consumption and may contain toxic additives.
Flaxseed Oil and Supplements
Flaxseed is available in supermarkets and health food stores and comes in whole seeds, ground seeds, or oil. Most nutrition experts recommend the ground seeds, which have all the nutrients (fiber, the lignans, and the essential fatty acids). Whole seeds will pass throughyour system undigested, and the oil lacks the fiber.
Generally flaxseed oil pills are sold either in 500 mg or 1000 mg dosages. You can also purchase flaxseed oil capsules or soft gels that are mixed with “carrier oil” like evening primrose oil and pumpkin seed oil. The capsules bottles must be tightly sealed as well as kept in a cool and dry place.
There are many simple ways to add flaxseed oil or flax seeds to the diet. Most athletes and bodybuilders do this regularly, adding a few spoons of flaxseed to cereal or yogurt, or simply taking flaxseed oil before meal. Since it doesn't have any taste, it is an easy oil to ingest (unlike fish oil). Flaxseed oil is most effective-and potent-when it is mixed with a lowfat dairy product. The best way to take it is to mix 2-5 tbsp of flaxseed oil, 1-3 tbsp of ground flaxseed, and 1 cup of low fat cottage cheese for a small meal. This is absorbed into the body easily and can be processed immediately for efficient delivery to the muscles and cells.
Flaxseed oil or flax oil is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart and brain health. In fact, flax is the plant source containing the most Omega-3. Many people believer that flax may lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation from diseases such as lupus, control high blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, help with constipation, reduce the risk of certain cancers such as prostate and help with joint pain. Taking flaxseed oil is very easy, and as you can see can be good for your help.
Flaxseed oil supplements contain proper ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6. It also contains a high proportion of α-linolenic acid (Omega 3 fatty acid) in relation to linoleic acid (Omega 6).
This balance is very important for metabolism of prostaglandins that are important molecules for the regulation of inflammation, blood pressure, pain, gastrointestinal function, cardiac function, GI secretions, fluid balance, kidney function platelet aggregation, blood coagulation nerve transmission, allergic response, hormone synthesis, and steroid production.
Therefore, changing the type of dietary oils can manipulate the metabolism of prostaglandins. This can be very important in treating arthritis, inflammation, high blood pressure, allergies, and many other health ailments.
The central objective is to build a balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 that leads to production of prostaglandins series 1 and 3 which can be achieved by incorporating a flaxseed oil supplement to our diet.
Flaxseed oil supplements help in preventing uterine bleeding again because omega-6 flaxseeds are partly synthesized gamma-linolenic acid, which in turn stimulates the production of prostaglandin 1 (PGE1).
- Flaxseed oil pills are conveniently swallowed without having to taste the oil, which is not palatable to many.
In a pill form, the flaxseed oil gets protection from UV radiation and light exposure.
- The flaxseed oil remains stable in the form of capsules or soft gels.
- There is minimal scope for formation of free radical in the oil in encapsulated form.
- The flaxseed oil is offered adequate protection from turning rancid.
- The capsules, pills or soft gels are literally tamper-proof. There may be leakage of contents and discoloration if it is tampered with or punctured.
- The flaxseed oil capsules or pills are easy and convenient for carrying to work, or to the gym and for a day’s trip. You simply need to pop a couple of them within your briefcase or your backpack to be used anytime later.
There are of course side effects, as there are to anything. And unfortunately there have not been many studies done on flax. As with most herbal supplements, it seems the health industry isn't interested in pursuing research to determine the true benefits. Maybe some day herbal supplements will be taken seriously. But for now, do not take flax when you are pregnant or nursing and be careful when taking it with other medicines.
Add Flax Seed to your diet and watch what it will do for you! If you're unsure about trying Flax Seed, contact your physician and ask for more information.
Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisible to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.