Flax seeds also known as common flax or linseed, are one of the oldest crops, packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals in addition to protein and fiber, offering numerous health benefits. They acquired their scientific name Linum usitatissimum meaning “the most useful” and their nutritional benefits rightly prove so. It is emerging as the “superfood” owing to the nutritional benefits in its offering which have been discussed below and are no misconception, but backed by researches:
Nutritional Features of Flaxseeds-
1. It is highly rich in Omega-3fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) considered as good fat. Researchers have proved that amongst all the healthy food, flaxseeds are the best one and not to exaggerate emerged as the number one source of omega 3 fatty acid. One tablespoon of flaxseeds contains about 1.8 gms of plant omega 3 acids.
2. The second unique property is that it is rich in lignans, fiber-like compounds that not only offer fiber-like benefits but also have antioxidant and estrogen properties that offer protective functions. Flax seeds contain 800 times more lignans than any other plant products.
3. Another important feature is its dietary fiber content, both soluble and insoluble which aids in digestion and improves the overall digestive health by regulating the bowel movement.
The combination of these three unique properties owes to the numerous health benefits listed below-
Protection against heart diseases and stroke: The amino acid and Omega-3 fatty acid content through their anti-inflammatory action and different mechanisms help in normalizing the heartbeat and prevent the hardening of arteries thereby reducing the chances of heart failure and stroke. Moreover, it has been proved that Omega -3 fatty acid content also aids in regulating the blood pressure thereby potentially decreasing the chances of stroke and heart failure.
Maintains Cholesterol Levels: The LDL or bad cholesterol is basically linked with several health problems like heart diseases, obesity, and diabetes. The studies in people with high cholesterol have proved that intake of flaxseeds helps to reduce LDL by 20% while overall cholesterol levels by 17% owing to its fiber content.
Reduces the risk of Cancer: Studies have recently have shown that this help fights deadly diseases like cancer and tumors. The omega 3 fatty acid content inhibits tumor growth while the lignans prevent the growth of cancerous cells by blocking the enzymes that are involved in hormonal functions thereby inhibiting the growth of tumor cells. They generally have protective functions against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory properties: The omega 3 fatty acid and lignin content of these seeds block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents that reduce the inflammatory conditions associated with health conditions like Parkinson’s diseases and asthma. These anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also prevent plaque build up in the arteries thereby reducing the chances of heart attack and stroke.
Treating post Menstrual Symptoms: Hot flashes are common symptoms of menopause characterized by a sudden feeling of warmth, sweating , increase in heartbeat and experiencing redness of skin on several parts of the body.It can be prevented or minimized by consuming flaxseeds. Reports have proved that two tbsp of flaxseeds mixed with cereals and yogurt reduced the hot flashes by 50% within one week.
In all, flax seeds are wonderful as an ingredient but it is not a magical element and regular intake in desirable amount would yield health benefits over a period of time.