Introduction and description
Flaxseed is the seed of the flax plant, which is believed to have originated in Egypt. Flax seeds come in two basic varieties brown and yellow or golden (also known as golden linseeds). Most types have similar nutritional characteristics and equal numbers of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The exception is a type of yellow flax called solin (trade name Linola), which has a completely different oil profile and is very low in omega-3 Fats.
And flax seeds have healing properties.
According to NCCAM, the most common folk or traditional use of flaxseed is as a laxative; it is also used for hot flashes and breast pain. Flaxseed oil has different folk or traditional uses, including arthritis. Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been used for high cholesterol levels and in an effort to prevent cancer.
Flaxseed contains lignans (phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens), while flaxseed oil preparations lack lignans, so it is better to stick to the seeds.
Again, according to NCCAM
- Flaxseed contains soluble fiber, like that found in oat bran, and may have a laxative effect.
- Studies of flaxseed preparations to lower cholesterol levels report mixed results. A 2009 review of the clinical research found that cholesterol-lowering effects were more apparent in postmenopausal women and in people with high initial cholesterol concentrations.
- Some studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid (a substance found in flaxseed and flaxseed oil) may benefit people with heart disease. But not enough reliable data are available to determine whether flaxseed is effective for heart conditions.
- Study results are mixed on whether flaxseed decreases hot flashes.
- Although some population studies suggest that flaxseed might reduce the risk of certain cancers, there is not enough research to support a recommendation for this use.
- NCCAM is funding studies on flaxseed. Recent studies are looking at its potential role in preventing or treating atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), breast cancer, and ovarian cysts.
Scientists have also found that flax seeds contain Ferulic acid and may help those with Dementia and Alzheimers. One of the reasons it can do this is because Ferulic acid is an anti-oxidant, but it also appears to be a chelation agent which means it may be able to get rid of various toxins in our bodies. More details of the science behind this is provided in the observation on Angelica and dementia - angelica also contains ferulic acid.
Ferulic acid is a type of organic compound. Its name comes from the word Ferula, referring to the giant fennel.
DO NOT TAKE SUPPLEMENTS This is a waste of time, enjoy the seeds as seeds. Also do not prepare the seeds, for example grinding them or roasting them until you intend to use them. Whole flax seeds are chemically stable, but ground flaxseed can go rancid at room temperature in as little as one week.
You can toast them lightly and sprinkle them in salads, combine them with other ingredients in breakfast dishes and use them as a whole seed in bread mixes if you make your own bread. They are also nice in cakes.
Flax seed sprouts are also edible, with a slightly spicy flavor [see sprouting seeds section on this website].
Flaxseed, called ('Tisi' or 'Alsi') in northern India, has been roasted, powdered and eaten with boiled rice, a little water, and a little salt since ancient times in the villages, it makes a very tasty accompaniment to most dishes – vegetarian or meat.
Make sure you have plenty of water to drink if you eat flax seeds as they absorb water and you can get dehydration or worse a bowel obstruction, if you don't drink enough. The same principles you might use for bran should be followed.
Don't overdose on them, just enjoy them as part of your normal diet.
How it works
see the observations for the explanations
- Easily available
They do need to be mixed with other foods, they are not so tasty on their own.
References and further reading
- Flaxseed. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:134–138.
- Flaxseed. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on July 10, 2009.
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on July 10, 2009.
- Flaxseed oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on July 10, 2009.
- Pan A, Yu D, Demark-Wahnefried W. Meta-analysis of the effects of flaxseed interventions on blood lipids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009;90(2):288–297
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