The seeds of most plants are rich in nutrients and can provide us with health benefits. Yet flax seeds are also nutritionally unique and offer us health benefits not found across the board within the seeds food group.
The first unique feature of flax is its high omega-3 fatty acid content. Among all 127 World's Healthiest Foods, flaxseeds comes out number one as a source of omega-3s!
The second unique feature of flaxseed is its lignans. Lignans are fibre-like compounds, but in addition to their fiber-like benefits, they also provide antioxidant protection due to their structure as polyphenols. The unique structure of lignans gives them a further health-supportive role to play. Sesame seeds come in second, but contain only one-seventh of the total lignans as flaxseeds.
The third unique feature of flaxseeds is their mucilage (gum) content. "Mucilage" refers to water-soluble, gel-forming fiber that can provide special support to the intestinal tract.
The fourth excellent feature of flaxseeds is they are rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are rich source of vitamin E, C, K, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folate, B12, Pantothenic acid, Choline, and Betine. Minerals- Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.
This combination of features—omega-3 fatty acids, high-lignan content, minerals and vitamins and mucilage gums—is a key factor in the unique health benefits of flaxseeds.
Here is some examples of the health benefits from flaxseeds--
Ideal for Weight Watchers - Flax seeds are very low in carbohydrates and suitable for people intending to limit their intake of starch and sugar. It is 100% vegetarian and can be used as an egg substitute in baked products.
Beneficial for Women - Research has indicated that flax seeds are useful to improve the chances of a woman conceiving a baby. It helps to regulate ovulation process and restore hormonal balance in the body. For women in the post menopausal stage it has been known to protect cardiovascular disease.
Aids Digestion - Being rich in fibre these seeds act as natural laxative
Anti Carcinogenic Properties - Increased levels of Lignans present in flax seeds help in protecting against cancer of the breast and prostate.
Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute,
The plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumour incidence and growth. And the antioxidant properties, which contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.
Flaxseed in Dr. Budwig diet to treat Cancer:-
In 1928 Dr Warburg who was awarded The Noble prize for his research, proved that lack of Oxygen absorbing capacity of cells is the root cause of the cancer. In absence of Oxygen, Cancer cells respire by anaerobic method and lactic acid is formed. He pointed out that cells need sulphur protein and some unknown fats to retain their oxygen absorbing capacity. He passed away before he could trace these unknown fats.
Picking up where Dr. Warburg left off, European Cancer Research Scientist and Physicist and seven times Noble nominee Dr. Johanna Budwig discovered the reason why our healthy cells become anaerobic and she finally found the Warburg’s unknown fats. Those were Linolenic and Linolenic acid(LA, ALA).
She noticed that Cancer patients do lack Linolenic acid, good lipoprotein and Phosphatides. She treated thousands of her cancer patients successfully with Cottage cheese and flaxseeds. As flaxseeds are excellent source of ALA Omega3 and cottage cheese is the source of Sulphurated protein. Amazingly, Dr. Budwig found that after only three short months on her budwig flax oil-quark combination, cancer patients began to improve. See her full article- www.budwigcenter.com/budwig-protocol.php
Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. It also has significant blood pressure-lowering effects. These effects may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed.
Flaxseed prevents hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings.
Lignans in flaxseed have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque build up by up to 75%.
Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by haemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).
Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses (such as Parkinson's disease and asthma) by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents.
ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans. And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents.
Flaxseed may cut hot flashes upto half and also may reduce its intensity by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.
How to consume flaxseeds?
Flax seeds are indeed wonder seeds. However, it is not advisable to consume it in large quantities or by people suffering from allergies of any kind. You must always start eating a small quantity of the seeds to begin with. Half or a quarter teaspoon will suffice for experimenting initially.
You must watch out for a few days and look for signs of allergic reactions or other gastrointestinal problems which the seeds may cause after consumption. In case you do not notice any adverse side effects you can gradually increase the intake of flax seeds up to two tablespoons a day.
Here are some of the different ways in which flaxseeds can be used.
Grinding Flax Seeds- By consuming ground flax seed you can derive maximum health benefits from it. For grinding simply put the seeds in a blender or a coffee grinder. Mix the powdered seeds in any recipe of your choice in moderate quantity.
Boiled Flax Seeds - Flax seeds can be boiled with soups and hot cereals. However, very small quantities must be used for boiling since excessive use of seeds can produce a kind of slime and a weird taste.
Raw Flax Seeds- Raw flax seeds give a soft crunch and nutty taste to foods. However when eaten raw it must be chewed thoroughly failing which it will get ejected from the body undigested. This essentially amounts to eating the seeds without deriving its nutritive benefits.