Flaxseed is one of the most versatile nuts because of all the nutrients it contains. It includes an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart-healthy properties and have been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and obesity. That said, flaxseed is also a great source of fiber, which can help keep your digestion running smoothly.
Flaxseed is a tiny seed that contains a lot of fiber. Powdered flaxseed contains more fiber than most other whole foods, making it an ideal food for a healthy lifestyle.
What is flax?
Flax is one of the oldest cultivated crops. There is evidence that humans used them around 3000 BC. Chr. in Babylon. Cultured Chr. The seeds are traditionally used for medicinal purposes and the fibres for making fabrics (e.g. flax) and ropes.
The flax plant, which can grow to a metre in height, is native to the area from the Mediterranean to India, but is now widespread throughout the world. It can grow up to 1 meter high.
As a fabric, linen has many uses, from tablecloths to warm-weather suits; both chic restaurant owners and tropical playboys can benefit from linen’s versatility. However, most people are more familiar with flaxseed, which can be ground and eaten or from which oil can be extracted. The extracted oil, which consists of 40% by weight of linseed, is generally called linseed oil or linseed oil. This oil can be consumed as part of a diet or even used as a preservative for wood floors.
Canada, the United States and China are the main producers of flax. Flax used to be grown on a large scale, but the rise of the oil industry after World War II caused many farms to abandon crops like flax in favor of large rotations like corn and soybeans. Since a large percentage of corn and soybeans are genetically modified, you can be sure that in Canada only flax seed varieties that are not genetically modified are used in commercial production.
Areas where flax is grown
What you need to know about laundry
Essential fatty acids
Flax is one of the most popular foods that provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a polyunsaturated fat and can be converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). After ingestion, these fats are eventually absorbed into the cell membranes of our body. Flax-fed animals have higher levels of omega-3 fats in their meat and eggs.
Humans evolved with a diet of marine animals and/or land plants. These diets provide a lot of omega-3 fats, resulting in an omega-6/ omega-3 ratio of about 1:1. The modern North American diet has a ratio of about 16:1 (omega-6:omega-3). This is likely due to a change in the staple diet, which normally does not include foods such as flax, hemp, nuts, perilla, green leafy vegetables, chia, fish and seaweed.
The nutrients in flax support various processes in the body. Fatty acids can help improve eye lubrication and help prevent dry eye syndrome.
Flaxseed also contains insoluble and soluble dietary fiber. It is immediately recognizable by the shell of the seed. When the seed comes into contact with water, it also becomes very sticky, thanks to the mucilage (another type of fiber) found in the seed coat. The fiber in flaxseed helps control blood sugar levels and regulate cravings. Dietary fiber is also important for healthy digestion. Taking 2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day can help relieve constipation.
Lignans are a class of phytoestrogens (also called plant estrogens) that can also act as antioxidants. They may be responsible for some of the beneficial properties of flax. It is these lignans, and not the isoflavones in soy, that are the main source of phytoestrogens in the Western diet. As with soy products, you don’t have to worry about the estrogenic effects of flaxseed if you consume it wisely (up to ¼ cup of flaxseed per day). Extracted flaxseed oil does not usually contain significant amounts of lignans, but this may depend on the method of filtration and whether the manufacturer adds lignans.
The lignans in linseed are metabolized by the intestinal flora to enterodiol and enterolactone. They have weak estrogenic properties and can affect tissues related to reproduction, bone, liver, heart and brain function. Flaxseed consumption is believed to significantly reduce the intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women.
Lignans are also thought to lower high levels of inflammatory markers in the body. Consumption of lignans from flaxseed may even lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade inflammation. Flax consumption has also been shown to reduce kidney inflammation in people with kidney disease. However, other studies have confirmed that other markers of inflammation and indicators of oxidative stress are not affected by consumption of flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Total lignans in selected foods
|Power supply||Maintenance||Total lignans (mg)|
|Sesame seed||1 ounce||11.2|
|Herb||½ cup, finely chopped||0.8|
|Broccoli||½ cup, finely chopped||0.6|
|Apricots||½ cup, finely chopped||0.4|
|Herb||½ cup, finely chopped||0.3|
|Brussels sprouts||½ cup, finely chopped||0.3|
|Tofu||¼ block (4 oz)||0.2|
|Dark rye bread||1 slice||0.1|
Source: Linus Pauling Institute
At this point you may be a little confused. On the one hand, flaxseed provides anti-inflammatory ALA, but some studies suggest that flaxseed does not improve all markers of inflammation. Why? This could be due to the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and ultimately to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Flax and EPA
The standard North American diet contains 80 to 110 grams of fat per day. Although we consume so much fat every day, we are still deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids that most of us consume regularly are ALA from plant sources. ALA needs to be converted into EPA and DHA, fatty acids that can help prevent diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
To convert ALA to EPA, we need delta-6-desaturase. The good old Delta-6 is inhibited by high blood sugar, high consumption of saturated fats and alcohol. So if you have a poor diet, flax won’t help you much, because you won’t be able to efficiently convert ALA into really useful omega-3 fatty acids.
Some studies even show that the conversion rate of ALA into EPA (and DHA) is low. The data show that fish oil rapidly increases DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids; however, flaxseed oil capsules (2.4 or 3.6 grams per day) are sufficient to increase total ALA, EPA, and DHA. Other data showed that 2 grams of flaxseed oil per day only increased blood levels of ALA, but not EPA and DHA.
Flax and crab
While a diet rich in ALA may protect against breast cancer, evidence for the impact of ALA on prostate cancer risk is mixed. Animal studies show that ALA prevents the development of cancer and can reduce tumors. You may recall that enterodiol and enterolactone compete with estrogen for estrogen receptor sites in breast tissue, which can reduce the risk of breast cancer. This may also be characteristic of prostate tissue. However, the figures are not yet final. Researchers know that consumption of foods rich in lignans is associated with a lower incidence of colon cancer, but this may simply be due to high fiber intake. In the case of cancer and ALA from flax, there’s still a lot we don’t know.
Flax and heart health
Eating 2 grams of flaxseed oil every day for 12 weeks may not be enough to improve heart health, but eating 2 to 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed every day for 10 weeks can be extremely healthy. The researchers found that this intake significantly reduced total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, insulin resistance, and triglycerides in the blood – results similar to those of powerful statin drugs (which have several side effects). Unfortunately, flaxseed also appears to lower good cholesterol.
Differences in nutrients between types of flax-based foods
Raw flaxseed, like other nuts/seeds (of which there are about 12,000), contains cyanogenic glycosides. Consumption of too many of these compounds over a long period of time can lead to their accumulation in the body and to toxic (even fatal) reactions. When the seeds are cooked, the glycosides become harmless.
Fortunately, flaxseed can be used for baking and even as an egg substitute. 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of water and blended in a food processor = 1 egg.
Whole, unground flaxseed is not absorbed by the body. First it needs to be sanded. You can buy pre-ground flaxseed or grind it in a coffee grinder.
Golden flax is softer than ordinary flax and generally contains a little more fat.
If only the oil is extracted from the linseed, the remaining raw material can be fed to livestock.
Store flaxseed in the refrigerator if you want to use it within a month. Keep it in the freezer for a long time.
Agricultural literature from the northern United States shows that people who tried to stand on flax in a bunker sometimes drowned quickly because the flax was very slippery. Some people even dove head first into laundry containers and suffocated.
Summary and recommendations
- Adding 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your daily diet can help balance fatty acid absorption, improve motility, and may have other benefits for cancer and cardiovascular health.
- If you already take dietary supplements with omega-3 fatty acids, you don’t need to feel obligated to include flax in your diet.
- Flaxseed oil can be used to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, but it does not contain the fiber and protein of whole seeds – and it is not a complete food. We recommend using omega-3 from whole food sources whenever possible.
Here are some recommendations for adding flax to your diet:
- Mix the ground flaxseeds with the cinnamon and use it as a sauce for fruit (e.g. apples).
- Bestreuen Sie die Beeren mit gemahlenem Flachs
- Mix the ground flaxseed through the Supercakes
- Add ground flaxseed to wholemeal muesli
- Add ground flaxseed to salads
- Add the ground flaxseed to the dressing
- Strolling over the bought vegetables
- Add the ground flaxseeds to the hummus.
- Add ground flaxseed to nut oils
- Mix the flaxseeds and cinnamon with the pickled pumpkin.
- Add to Gourmet Nutrition recipes such as pancakes, bars, cookies, muffins.
Additional operating equipment
Flax filament of Canada
Click here to see the sources of information referenced in this article.
Mandasescu S, et al. Flaxseed consumption in patients with hyperlipidemia. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi 2005;109:502-506.
Miljanovic B, et al. The relationship between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82:887-893.
Pruthi S, et al. Experimental evaluation of flaxseed for the treatment of hot flashes. J Soc Integr Oncol 2007;5:106-112.
Eaton SB & Konner M. Paleolithic nutrition: a consideration of its nature and contemporary implications. N Engl J Med 1985;312:283-289.
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 ratio of essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharacother 2002;56:365-379.
Morris D., Weissi-Genser M. Linseed: Health, nutrition and functionality. Winnipeg: Flax Council of Canada; 1997. p. 57-9.
Barcelo-Coblin G, et al. Consumption of flaxseed and fish oil capsules alters the composition of n-3 fatty acids in human red blood cells: a multiple dose study comparing two sources of n-3 fatty acids. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;88:801-809.
Morris DH. 2007. Len: An introduction to health and nutrition. Winnipeg, MB : Canadian Linen Council.
Wang L, et al. The inhibitory effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastasis of estrogen receptor-negative human breast cancer xenografts is attributed to its lignans and oil components. Int J Cancer 2005;116:793-798.
Lin X, et al. Effect of flaxseed supplementation on prostate carcinoma in transgenic mice. Urology 2002;60:919-924.
Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Pilot study of fat restriction and flaxseed consumption in men with preoperative prostate cancer: Study of the effects on hormone levels, prostate specific antigen and histopathological characteristics. Urology 2001;58:47-52.
Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. A pilot study on the effect of a low-calorie diet with flaxseed on benign prostate epithelial proliferation and prostate-specific antigen. Urology 2004;63:900-904.
Kris-Etherton PM, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids in the US food chain. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:179S-188S.
Ambrosini GL, et al. Dietary patterns revealed by factor analysis and prostate cancer risk: a control study in Western Australia. Ann Epidemiol 2008;18:364-370.
McCann SE, et al. The risk of breast cancer associated with dietary lignans varies according to CYP17 genotype in women. J Nutr 2002;132:3036-3041.
Jones PJ, et al. Effect of oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids on fat oxidation and energy expenditure in healthy men. Metabolism 2008;57:1198-1203.
Hallund J, et al. Effect of a lignin complex isolated from flaxseed on inflammatory markers in healthy postmenopausal women. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2008;18:497-502.
Bloedon LT, et al. Flaxseed and cardiovascular risk factors : Results of a double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Am Coll Nutr 2008;27:65-74.
Kaul N, et al. Comparison of the effects of fish oil, flaxseed oil and hemp oil on selected cardiovascular health parameters in healthy volunteers. J Am Coll Nutr 2008;27:51-58.
Simopoulos AP. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70:560S-569S.
Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute. http://www.jeffersoninstitute.org/pubs/flax.shtml. Last call: 11/6/08.
Personal contact with the Flax Board of Canada regarding methods of growing genetically modified flax. 11/3/08.
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