Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Are The Natural Healthy Properties of Flaxseed?

Flaxseed oil, which was cited by Hippocrates as a medicine, is recently making a comeback in popularity as modern man has discovered the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. Nutty flavored flaxseed oil is highly concentrated with this heart healthy unsaturated fat. Some of the benefits of Omega 3 acids include its positive effect on high blood pressure, the immune system, inflammatory disorders, and some cancers. Flaxseed oil has also proven beneficial in treating in treating eczema.

Both the seed and oil variety of flax are heart healthy due to the Omega 3 fatty acid. This type of fat is important to the development of cell membranes and the regulation of blood pressure. It also has a positive effect on lowering the body’s bad cholesterol levels and might even lower the chances of blood clotting thus preventing heart attacks.

Flax seeds themselves have even more health benefits than the oil. These seeds have a hard shell and are slightly bigger than sesame seeds. The seeds contain fiber, protein, minerals, B vitamins and lignins. Lignin, a phytonutrient, is believed to have anti cancer properties, especially, estrogen linked varieties such as breast cancer. Lignins are also noted for their antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal abilities.

Flaxseeds are high in fiber which can be taken regularly as a natural laxative and help prevent colon cancer and ease the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This type of fiber is also believed to be beneficial for those struggling to maintain their blood sugar levels.

Women may also benefit from adding flaxseeds and flaxseed oil to their diet as there are some studies that suggest it assists in promoting natural ovulation as well as having a positive effect on hormones which eases pre-menopausal symptoms.

After reading about some of the benefits the flaxseed offers one may be interested in ways to incorporate them into their diet. First, keep in mind that the seeds need to be ground to experience their health effects; otherwise they just quickly pass through and exit the body. Also, flaxseed oil, like all other oils high in essentially fatty acids is not meant for cooking with. The heating process has a negative effect. Simply add the oil to foods once prepared such as vegetables and pastas.

As mentioned, the flaxseeds can be ground much like flour and therefore can be baked into many foods, including breads, muffins, and pancakes. As the flaxseed has increased in popularity it can also be found in ready to eat cereals and bars. Or, one can simply grind the seeds and toss them on salads, vegetables, etc.

One caution is that some people may be allergic to flaxseeds.

Rachel Gillespe