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Flax Seed

Overview

Flax seed is a high quality source of alpha linoleic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid.  It was used as a food source as early as Egyptian times, and is one of the few non-animal sources of omega 3 fatty acids.  Because of the importance of omega 3 fatty acids in the body, flax seed is highly recommended as a daily supplement for those who avoid eating animal

products.

 

What Flax Seed Does:

Flax seed is one of the richest sources of alpha linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids that the body requires to create new cells and repair old ones. Specifically, the EFA that is contained in flax seed is an omega 3 fatty acid, which is in short supply in the typical American diet.  The prevalence of omega 6 in our diets and the relative scarcity of omega 3 are being correlated with the rise of such illnesses as diabetes, depression, schizophrenia, hypertension, bipolar disorder, coronary disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in flax seed are essential for your body to create healthy neural and brain tissue.  While the body can use other fatty acids in building and rebuilding neural cells and brain cells, those that use omega 3 fatty acids function best.

 

In addition, flax seed contains a number of phytonutrients called lignins.  Lignins show a lot of promise as antioxidants that may help prevent several forms of cancer, heart disease and stroke.  The Phytonutrient Lab of the USDA is studying flax seed very seriously as a possible preventive for cancer, and according to director Beverly Clevidence, ‘Flax seed is a grain that holds a lot of promise.’

 

Finally, flax seed is a good source of high quality fiber in the diet, which can promote healthy digestion.

 

Health Benefits of Flax Seed:

Reduces Cholesterol

A number of studies have shown that including flax seed in the diet helps lower LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Regulates Insulin/Sugar Levels in Diabetics

Research at the University of Toronto has linked flax seed with lower blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. This is borne out by other studies which suggest that flax seed and omega 3 fatty acid benefit the body’s regulation of insulin at a cellular level.

May Prevent Cancer

The American National Cancer Institute has singled out flax seed as one of the six foods that deserve special study.  Because flax seed contains a high amount of phytonutrients that serve as antixodants, and because omega 3 fatty acids seem to play a role in preventing the formation of abnormal cells in the body, many doctors recommend eating flax seed every day.

Relieves constipation

Flax seed is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.  In fact, one ounce of flax seed contains 32% of the US RDA for fiber.  Fiber in the diet promotes healthy digestive functioning and regular bowel movements, which can be a major concern as people grow older.

Reduces Inflammation

Flax may be beneficial to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.  In one 1996 study, patients who added flax seed to their diet on a regular basis showed marked improvement in their condition, with inflammation levels dropping by nearly 30 percent.

May reduce the symptoms of menopause

The phytoestrogens in flax seed may help alleviate some menopausal symptoms and reduce the need for estrogen replacement therapy in menopausal women.

Reduces the Risks Associated with Heart Disease

There’s a large and growing body of work that highlights the effects of flax seed on heart disease.  Among other things, it helps lower cholesterol, reduces clotting time and promotes health cell regrowth. All of these are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease.

Bolsters the immune system

The lingans and the EFA present in flax seed seem to bolster immune system operation.  Because many of the diseases mentioned above are suspected of being, at least in part, auto-immune disorders, there is every reason to believe that flax seed can keep the immune system intact.

May help alleviate symptoms of depression

The effects of omega 3 essential fatty acid on neuropsychological disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, OCD, ADD is well documented by various studies. Because flax seed is high in omega 3 fatty acids, it may help reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

 

Possible Side Effects of Flax Seed:

Flax seed has no reported harmful side effects.

 

Summary

Because flax seed is the richest vegetable source of omega 3 fatty acids, it is often included in health supplements that benefit neurological and brain function.  There is a great deal of evidence to support the benefits of adding flax seed, flax seed oil or flax seed extract to your daily diet to help improve your immune system and fight off some of the most common diseases of the modern world.

 

 

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