Flax Health Benefits

Flax Seed has many Health Benefits can be incorporated into your everyday diet many ways! From juice to bread or on salads, consuming flax is as easy and flavorful as it is good for you.  Here is some information about the basic benefits of Flax Seed use.

Nutritional Components

Fiber

Flax seed’s unique mix of soluble and insoluble fiber has been shown to be effective in the lowering of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.  When it reaches the colon, part of the dietary fiber is broken down by healthy intestinal bacteria, assisting absorption into the system of high concentration of flax seed’s omega-3 fatty acids and plant lignans.

Lignans
Lignans are a type of natural plant phytoestrogen contained within in the cell matrix of the flax seed.  These plant hormones mimic the action of the body’s own estrogen, blocking the formation of hormone-based tumors or growths.  Considered anti-oxidants, the lignans in flax seed appear in concentrations of 75 to 800 times that found in some other foods.  To get the lignin benefit of a ˝ cup of flax seed, 60 cups of fresh broccoli or 100 slices of whole wheat bread would need to be consumed.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
Some fats are critical to nutritional balance.  Essential fatty acids (EFA) are divided into omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.  Omega-6 EFAs are found in corn, safflower, sunflower, canola and soybean oils.  Omega-3 EFAs are found primarily in flax seed and certain fish.  Ground flax seed and flax seed oil provide a concentrated level of these EFAs without concern for the chemical contamination that may be a risk with fish consumption.  Omega-6 EFAs are best utilized in a 4:1 ratio with Omega-3 oils.  American dietary habits have increased that ratio to nearly 25:1, increasing the risk if inflammation, blood clotting and tumor growth.  Deficiencies in omega-3 EFAs have been linked to diabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, skin conditions and other chronic health problems.  60% of Americans are believed to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.

Health Benefits:
Studies have shown that the nutritional components found in golden flax seed can have a beneficial impact on the following conditions:

Heart Disease

The fiber, lignans and omega-3 qualities in flax seed combine to reduce the potential for heart disease by promoting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol’s artery-cleaning properties, and reducing the presence and artery-hardening effects of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.

Cancer
Diets rich in insoluble fiber fight colon cancer by keeping the digestive tract hydrated and active.  The phytoestrogen lignans, up to 800 times more predominant in flax seed than in vegetables or other grain products, mimic the body’s own estrogen-type cells to block the formation of hormone-based tumors or growths.  The omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) in flax help to balance hormone production and maintain organ function, buffering sensitive breast and prostate tissue against imbalance-related abnormalities.

Diabetes & Weight management
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the risk of diabetes increases by 4% for every pound of excess weight.  The unique ability of flax seed to assist in the diminishment of food cravings while providing an array of beneficial nutrients makes it an invaluable component of a successful weight management program.

Memory, Mood, Attention
A Purdue study linked essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency with learning disorders and hyperactivity.  Dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain are composed of omega-3 fatty acids called DHA.  If insufficient DHA is present, man-made trans-fat molecules may be substituted as connectors, eventually contributing to inefficiencies in bran receptor activity.

Immune System
Flax seed has the potential to be used for the treatment of disorders characterized in part by activated lymphocytes and a hyper-stimulated immune response.  Such disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Menopause
Symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and insomnia frequently accompany the decline in estrogen production that usually marks the end of menstruation.  The natural phytoestrogens or plant estrogens, found in flax seed have been found effective in many cases in reducing those symptoms.  Phytoestrogens have antioxidant effects, reduce inflammation, and bind with estrogen receptors in the body.  Flax seed oil is rich in gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), and is used as well for symptoms of PMS and breast tenderness.

Constipation
Constipation is generally diagnosed if bowel movements occur less frequently than three times per week, but for many, it relates more directly to the discomfort being experienced.  While accompanied by discomfort, constipation is not a disease.  It is frequently a result of inadequate fiber in the diet.  The natural dietary fiber in flax seed is not digested in the stomach, passing instead to the large intestine (colon), where it acts like a sponge drawing water to the stool and increasing the number of bacteria in the colon.  Both contribute to larger, softer and easier-to-pass stool.