Articles, blogs, news reports all mention the healing benefits of flax seeds. Sometimes the volume of information can be overwhelming. Let’s try and break it down.
Omega 3 and Flax Seeds
One buzzword is Omega 3. Flax seeds are a source of omega 3. What does that actually mean?
-Not created by the human body, Omega 3 fats come from fish or plant sources
-They are important for the health of cell membranes
-They affect the function of receptor sites on cells (receptor sites are proteins on the cell surface that allow drugs hormones and viruses to interact with the cell)
-Flax seeds are high in Alpha-linolenic acid (an omega 3) that the body uses for energy
-They assist in making hormones that help heart function
Flax Seeds and Disease
Able to affect the treatment of disease, flax seeds are currently being studied intensively.
The main claim for flax seed and flax oil’s benefits to cardiovascular health are their ability to reduce cholesterol buildup.
-Incorporating flax seed into the diets of animals reduces cholesterol buildup
-Flax seed oil regulates heart beat, prevents vesicular damage and reduces inflammation
-Canada has approved the health claim that flax seed can reduce cholesterol
Flax Seeds and Diabetes
Adding flax seeds to meals reduces blood glucose spikes. There are a number of studies ongoing into the effect of flax seeds on type 1 and 2 diabetes.
An open label study is reported on PubMed. The study found that supplementation with 10g of flax seed powder per day reduced fasting blood glucose by 19.7% and glycated hemoglobin by 15.6%.
Glycated hemoglobin numbers are the A1c numbers taken at three month intervals to study long term blood glucose levels.
Flax Seed and Cancer
Flax seed contains lignans which are phytoestrogens. They are being studied for their effect on breast and prostate cancer. Flax seed has a number of protective uses in treating cancer
Flax seed protects against the harmful side effects of radiation and inhibits the spread of cancer cells. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics flax seed lignans “can cause the body to produce less active forms of estrogen.” They also state that “adding ground flaxseeds into the diet decreases cell growth in breast tissues…”
GreenMedinfo has an article quoting a meta analysis (a study of the findings from a number of studies) and a breakdown of the results of the meta analysis. The findings show that flax seeds are valuable in the treatment of breast cancer.
The phytoestrogens are beneficial in the treatment of prostate cancer. A study reported in Medical News Today states that flax seed can stop prostate cancer tumors from growing.
Other Flax Benefits
Flax seeds and flax seed oils have numerous other benefits including:
Skin health – reduces dry itchy flaky skin, acne and eczema
Hair Health – moisturizes and revitalizes hair and promotes growth of new hair
Weight Loss – helps you feel full longer and reduces inflammation that retains fat
Constipation – relieves constipation
How Much Should I Take
Flax oil is available in supplement form but since dietary amounts are all you need why not just add the seeds to your diet. One tablespoon is all you need to receive the health benefits of this amazing seed. Four tablespoons is the maximum.
Flax seeds have a crunchy coating so either chew them well or grind then prior to using them.
Flax seeds are not recommended for pregnancy.
Flax has been used as both food and cloth for centuries. Linen made from flax was used to wrap mummies in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks and Romans revered the flax plant. Modern science and healing also revere flax. Like the coconut tree, flax is far more than it appears.