Flaxseed is one of the world’s most important medicinal foods
11/12/2018 // Mary Miller // Views

Flaxseed is the latest of many superfoods that can provide a bounty of nutritional value while improving your overall health. It is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans, dietary fiber, protein, and many other beneficial nutrients, making it one of the world's most important medicinal foods.

Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is the seed of the flax plant. It is available in two edible forms: the seed and the oil. The seed can be eaten whole or ground into a flaxseed meal or flour, while the oil can be taken in liquid or pill form. To reap their medicinal benefits, you can either eat them on their own or add them to your daily diet. Even a single cup of flaxseed (168 grams) contains 30.7 g of protein and 70.8g of total fat. This means that a cup of flaxseed contains 61 percent of protein and 109 percent of total fat that the body needs in a day, respectively. Don't worry, these are the good fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. But a recommended daily dose would be a tablespoon or two a day of either flaxseed meal or the oil.

Nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in flaxseed

  • Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids -- It is important to have a sufficient omega-3 fatty acid intake to balance out the more common omega-6 fatty acids found in most other oils, such as corn and peanut oils. Fortunately, flaxseed oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, with a 4:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. These are the good fats that provide great health benefits to our hearts, brains, and normal growth and development. (Related: Flaxseed oil provides lost-lasting pain relief in patients with knee osteoarthritis.)
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  • Lignans -- Flaxseed has one of the highest levels of naturally occurring lignans, possibly more than any other food source. Lignans are a kind of plant compound which can protect cells from aging-related damage by fighting free radicals that cause tissue damage. They also work as antioxidants, which may help fight certain cancers and oxidative stress. The coat of the seed contains most of the lignan content, which may be lost when it is processed into oil. Therefore, to best utilize the benefits of lignans, flaxseed should be consumed in whole seed or meal form. But if you prefer flaxseed oil, be sure to find a high lignan form of the oil.
  • Dietary Fiber -- Similar to lignans, dietary fiber is mostly present in the seed and meal forms of flaxseed, rather than in the oil form. Consuming flaxseed can help promote a healthy digestive system and stimulate regular bowel movement due to its high fiber content.

Health benefits of flaxseed

Flaxseed can be useful in treating a wide variety of health issues. Here are some of the ways flaxseed can benefit one's overall health and well-being:

  • Cancer -- Since lignans are a natural antioxidant, these compounds contain possible anticancer properties that lower the risk of cancer. As polyphenols, they may also help slow down the growth of certain types of hormone-dependent cancers, particularly breast cancer. Taking over half a teaspoon of flaxseed everyday is recommended for women who have gone through menopause to help reduce their risk of cancer.
  • Lowering cholesterol levels -- The high content of dietary fiber in flaxseed meal can reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body, helping prevent other health problems such as stroke and heart disease. Aside from reducing their risk of cancer, older women can also greatly benefit from this as their bad cholesterol levels often increase after menopause.
  • Constipation -- Due to its high fiber content, flaxseed can help treat digestive issues such as constipation by stimulating digestion. But this treatment can only be effective when combined with drinking plenty of water since flaxseed naturally soaks up water. If your flaxseed intake is too dry, it might only aggravate your constipation. Also, taking too much flaxseed runs the risk of causing the opposite problem, resulting in diarrhea.
  • Weight management -- As yet another bonus of its high fiber content, flaxseed can help you lose weight by making you want to eat less. This is because foods that are high in fiber make you feel full more quickly

To learn more about the health benefits of flaxseed and other superfoods, you can read more articles at Superfood.news.

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