The facts on flax!
Flaxseeds are a bundle of nutrients that have gained superfood status. These have earned the status of functional foods for a wealth of health benefits. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that these plant fats may have heart-protective effects, in fact, it is believed that a higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and other chronic diseases. One tablespoon of flaxseed oil comprises 7 grams of alpha-linoleic acid. Two tablespoon of flaxseeds have 6 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Besides, flax seeds are packed with manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and thiamin.
The American Heart Association suggests including vegetable oils rich in ALA for a healthy cardiovascular system. In animal studies, dietary flaxseed has been found to have slowed down the progression of atherosclerosis due to the anti-inflammatory action of ALA. It can also reduce the circulating trans fats levels.
The good fats in flaxseed are known to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Studies show that the regular consumption of flaxseeds may help reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Additionally, flax seeds may help prevent plaque deposition and hardening of the artery, thus reducing the risk of strokes.
Research finds that heating or baking at 178 ℃ for two hours does not alter the ALA content. Human studies conclude that humans with heart disease symptoms can benefit from dietary flaxseed. It is believed that dietary intervention with flax seeds could help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in those fighting symptoms of peripheral arterial disease. Studies find a significant reduction in both brachial and central blood pressures by dietary flaxseed.
In another study, PAD patients were found to experience a significant reduction in blood pressure after being regularly fed 30 gram of flax meal for 6 months. The cardiovascular benefits in the form of a change in lipid metabolism are believed to be induced by ALA.
Flaxseeds are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber. This makes these seeds a good digestion aid. Since soluble fiber helps soften stool, it can easily pass through the gastrointestinal tract for elimination from the system. On the other hand, insoluble fiber stimulates the digestive system so that the waste passes through the gut freely. This can play a role in keeping you regular, promoting your digestive health.
Flaxseed oil is enriched with polyunsaturated fatty acids that promote intestinal health. Research establishes the importance of flaxseed oil diet in improving gut health, immunity, and improve intestinal function.
Flaxseed supplementation might play a role in reducing blood glucose levels, preventing sugar spikes in diabetes patients. The lignans in flaxseeds are believed to improve the levels of HA1C, which measures blood sugar levels over a three-month period.
In a study, prediabetic patients, who were obese men and post-menopausal women with weight mismanagement issues, were given a flax seed supplementation every day. At the end of the study, the group with flaxseed supplementation reported improvement in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Flaxseed, flaxseed oil and flax lignan complex affect serum glucose levels and may improve glycemic control. Research finds that SDG may reduce the incidence of type 1 diabetes while delaying the onset of type 2.
Omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds benefit brain health. Research concludes that dietary flaxseed supplementation could improve brain function in people suffering from neural disease.
In a lab study, when pregnant rats were fed flaxseed, their newborn pups were found to have heavier brains with significantly larger amounts of ALA and DHA. When some of the pups were fed flaxseed oil or milled flaxseed, they reported higher brain mass, with milled flaxseed playing a crucial role in early postnatal brain development. Besides, it helps prevent symptoms of depression in newborns if mothers’ diet is supplemented with flax seeds during pregnancy.
Dietary flaxseed may play a protective role in menopausal symptoms, including severity of hot flashes. Flaxseed metabolites are thought to have an estrogenic action that has a potentially positive effect on post-menopausal symptoms. Supplementation with flaxseeds is found to improve the quality of life of such women while reducing the intensity of symptoms.
A study on females with sensitive skin found an improvement in their skin health following the ingestion of flaxseed oil. The study subjects reported a significant reduction in skin sensitivity. Additionally, there were reports of better skin hydration and reduction in skin roughness and transepidermal water loss in such women.
All these positive effects were believed to have been caused by ALA. Flaxseed supplementation is found to correct the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory oxylipins. It is touted to be an anti-aging agent as well by balancing skin pH. Flaxseed oil can boost mental and physical endurance. According to Ayurveda, flax oil can help fight fatigue and control the premature signs of aging.
Research shows the capacity of flaxseed supplementation in altering the bacterial flora in intestine of subjects. Some studies find that a combination of flaxseeds, fat, and fish oil helped increase the abundance of intestinal flora.
Lab studies show that dietary flaxseed may reduce tumor multiplicity and size in the colon and small intestine. Dietary flaxseed may have chemopreventive effects for intestinal tumor development by increasing lignans and omega -3s and reducing levels of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes that promote inflammation.
They are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Mucilage is the soluble fiber in flax seeds, which forms a gel-like consistency in combination with water. As a result, it slows down the emptying of the stomach and delays hunger pangs. A meta-analysis finds that flaxseed supplementation could help in weight management and reduction in body weight and waist measurement.
Dietary supplementation with milled flaxseed is known to have benefits for the body. Dehulled flaxseeds do not have an outer layer, which increases the bioavailability of nutrients. Unless dehulled, flaxseeds might pass through the gut without the absorption of useful nutrients. Dehulled seeds are rich in crude proteins and fiber and lack carbohydrates. Various clinical studies conclude that the flaxseed constituents help prevent disease.
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 Che, L., et.al., (2019). Flaxseed oil supplementation improves intestinal function and immunity, associated with altered intestinal microbiome and fatty acid profile in pigs with intrauterine growth retardation. Food & function, 10(12), 8149–8160. https://doi.org/10.1039/c9fo01877h
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 Bommareddy, A., et.al. (2009). Effects of dietary flaxseed on intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc(Min) mouse. Nutrition and cancer, 61(2), 276–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/01635580802419764
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