Health Benefits of Flaxseed

There is a growing awareness of some food items that enhance the functioning of the major organs of the body. One such item is a small seed packed with power: flaxseed. Flaxseed contains elements essential for good health, especially Omega 3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants and fiber. Therefore it has a positive impact on the heart, liver and kidneys, bones, the digestive tract, and immune system.

Fat intake is usually controlled to ensure a healthy heart and control weight; yet, there is a kind of fat which is actually good for the heart and other organs. In fact, some fats are not just good for the health, but required by the body to keep parts like the brain, heart, eyes and joints healthy. Therefore, they are known as essential fatty acids, or EFAs. They are important for the development of the brain and vision, specially the retina, even of the unborn child. This is due to their highly specialized functions in neurological tissues.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are “good” polyunsaturated fats. They cannot be manufactured by the body, and have to be derived from food items, such as fish oil. This might be a problem for those who do not consume non-vegetarian food, or develop intolerance to fish/fish oil.

However, this healthy fat can also be derived from plants. One of the richest plant sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids is Flaxseed, which can be used in the form of flaxseed, flaxseed powder or flaxseed oil, also called linseed oil. Flaxseed oil, obtained from the seed of the flax plant, has 50-60% Omega 3, almost double the amount that is found in fish oil. It is rich in an Omega 3 fat called Alpha Linolenic Acid, or ALA. Omega 3 is important for development and growth, since it is required for the formation of new tissues.

Flaxseed also contains Phyto-Estrogens, a group of chemicals found in plants, and which act like the hormone estrogen. They are from one of three chemical classes, lignan being one of them. Lignan contribute to good health in many ways. They have anti-oxidant abilities, and help in reducing the risk of breast and prostrate cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, they are said to protect against bone loss and menopausal symptoms. Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, more than soybeans, and almost a hundred times more than most whole grains.

Due to its composition and properties, flaxseed has multiple health benefits.

It keeps the heart healthy, controls cholesterol and triglycerides, and prevents clots. Therefore, it reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Flaxseed controls blood sugar, and maintains normal blood pressure.
It also enables better functioning of the liver and kidneys.

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