Flax is an annual plant that is commercially grown for its seeds (flaxseed) and fiber. Flax cultivation is a major economic activity in Canada, India, USA, China, Ethiopia and Europe amongst other countries. Flax is one of the very important fiber crops in the world. The fiber is used in making cloth, paper and ropes. The fiber used is that which is obtained from the bark of the plant. Flaxseed is very useful in the production of flaxseed or linseed oil. It is from the seeds that edible linseed is produced. It is worth noting that flaxseed sprouts have been eaten for centuries as food. Flaxseed and linseed oil is highly nutritious. Flaxseed contains carbohydrates, sugars, fat, dietary fiber, protein, ligans, vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc) and omega-3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed has been established to have many health benefits, some of which include:
- Fight Cancer – The omega-3 fatty acids and ligans have been established to inhibit cancer growth. In particular, the ligans prevent the occurrence of breast, prostate and colon types of cancer. The ligans act in two ways: blocking the enzymes involved in the metabolism of enzymes and interfering and disrupting the growth and spread of cancerous cells. The vitamin C component is a very powerful antioxidant that fights and destroys disease-causing organisms. Eating flaxseed is a very effective way of protecting yourself against cancer and heart disease.
- Reduce Cholesterol Levels – High cholesterol levels are a concern for many people around the world, and you too need to be. High cholesterol levels lead to various cardiovascular diseases, which are not only life threatening but very expensive to manage. The omega-3 fatty acids and ligans contained in flaxseed are very effective in preventing the hardening of arteries and buildup of plaques within the arteries. This normalizes your heartbeat, in effect reducing chances of heart ailments. You will not only be preventing heart ailments by eating flaxseed; you also prevent obesity.
- Managing Diabetes – From studies undertaken, ligans contained in flaxseed have been established to improve blood sugar. For this reason, eating flaxseed has been found to be very effective in managing Type 2 diabetes.
- Preventing Inflammation – Many diseases and health conditions cause inflammation in the body, including asthma and Parkinson’s disease. Ligans contained in flaxseed have the capacity to block the release of inflammatory agents, in effect preventing inflammation.
- Managing Menopause Symptoms – Menopause symptoms cannot only be a problem but traumatic as well. In a study involving menopause women, Flaxseed was found to be very effective in reducing hot flashes and their frequencies within a week of eating flaxseed. Those who were put on flaxseed for more time achieved complete hot flash relief in two weeks. Flaxseed is one of the products that most nutritionists recommend for menopausal women.
Flaxseed researchers recommend the use of flaxseed to flaxseed or linseed oil. This is because the seed contains all the beneficial ingredients. However, the use of flaxseed is not for everyone. Do not use flaxseed at any stage of your pregnancy or if breastfeeding. Research is still underway to establish safety in such cases. Flaxseed is available worldwide in food stores and supermarkets in powder form. You can mix the powder with your regular diet by making different recipes.