Health Benefits and Nutrition values of Flax Seeds
Flax Seeds are the tiny grains which have a variety of health benefits. Linum usitatissimum is the scientific name of flax seeds but are commonly called flax or linseeds. These seeds are highly loaded with omega-3s, fiber, protein, amino acids, healthy fats and more. These are small and edible seeds of the Flax plant which is one of the oldest crops in the world. Flax seeds are usually brown or yellow. They’re solid whole, ground/milled, or roasted and are often processed into flaxseed oil.
Long back flax seeds are used to create textile, but due to its health benefits they are gradually incorporated in the diet. They are taken as whole grains or made into powder to obtain the maximum benefits. Flax Seeds have a wide range of health benefits such as improved digestion, reducing the risk of heart diseases, helps in controlling type 2 diabetes etc.
Nutrients of Flax Seed
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the essential components to the body. They may have benefits for various aspects of heart health, including blood platelet function, inflammation, and blood pressure. Flax seeds are very high in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Several studies show that ALA has a lower risk of stroke, heart attacks, and chronic kidney disease.
They have decreased the risk of heart disease in animal studies by reducing inflammation in
the arteries. These studies observed a 73% lower risk of sudden death as well, compared to people with lower ALA intake. Plant-based ALA fatty acids seem to benefit heart health similarly to fish oils, which are rich in EPA and DHA.
Flax seeds are one of the richest known dietary sources of lignans. These nutrients function as phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. They have weak estrogenic and antioxidant properties They have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome, as they reduce levels of fat and glucose in your blood. Flax lignans also help reduce blood pressure, oxidative stress, and inflammation in your arteries. Lignans are fermented by bacteria in your digestive system and may reduce the growth of several cancers especially hormone-sensitive types, such as breast, uterus, and prostate cancer.
High Fiber and Protein content
Flax seeds are made up of 18% protein. Their amino acid profile is comparable to soybeans. Despite containing essential amino acids, they’re lacking in the amino acid lysine. Therefore, they’re considered an incomplete protein. Still, flax seeds are high in the amino acids arginine and glutamine — both of which are important for heart and immune system health
Flax seeds have high content of antioxidants
Flaxseed is a top source of health-protective antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants are thought to protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as cell-damaging oxidative stress which means they may help fend off premature aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s too.
Carbs and fiber
Flax seeds are made up of 29% carbs and 95% of fiber.
This means that they are low in net digestible carbs, the number of total carbs minus the amount of fiber making them a low-carb food.
Two tablespoons (20 grams) of flax seeds provide about 6 grams of fiber. This is roughly 15–25% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for men and women, respectively
The fiber content is composed of
- 20–40% soluble fiber (mucilage gums)
- 60–80% insoluble fiber (cellulose and lignin)
Soluble fiber helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It also promotes digestive health by feeding your beneficial gut bacteria. When mixed with water, the mucilage gums in flax seeds become very thick. Combined with the insoluble fiber content, this makes flax seeds a natural laxative. Consuming flax seeds can help promote regularity, prevent constipation, and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Flax seeds are made up of 18% protein. Their amino acid profile is comparable to soybeans.
Despite containing essential amino acids, they’re lacking in the amino acid lysine.
Therefore, they’re considered an incomplete protein. Still, flax seeds are high in the amino acids arginine and glutamine, both of which are important for heart and immune system health.
Flax seeds contain 42% fat, with 1 tablespoon (10 grams) providing 4.3 grams. This fat content is composed of 73% polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-6 fatty acids and the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and 27% monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids Flax seeds are one of the richest dietary sources of ALA. In fact, they’re only exceeded by chia seeds.
ALA is an essential fatty acid, which your body cannot produce it. Thus, you need to obtain it from the food you eat. Flaxseed oil contains the highest amount of ALA, followed by milled seeds. Eating the seeds whole provides the least amount of ALA, as the oil is locked up inside the fibrous structure of the seed.
Due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds have a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 than many other oil seeds. A lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to a lower risk of various chronic diseases. However, flax seeds don’t contain as much omega-3 as fish oils.
Vitamins and minerals
Flax seeds are a good source of several vitamins and minerals like Thiamine(Vitamin B1), Copper, Molybdenum, Magnesium, Phosphorus.
Other plant compounds
Flax seeds contain several beneficial plant compounds like p-Coumaric acid, Ferulic acid, Cyanogenic glycosides, Phytosterols, Lignans.
Benefits of Flax seeds
Good for reducing heart diseases
Flax seeds contain more fibers, omega 3, Lignans which helps in promoting heart health. It also contains phytosterols which have similar structure to cholestrol, but the help prevent the absorption of cholestrol in the intestines. By consuming this therefore helps in reducing the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), which is a bad cholestrol in the body.
Helps in digestion
Flaxseed contains both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps in soften stool, so it can pass through the GI tracts and be eliminated more easily. Insoluble fiber helps stimulate the digestive system to move waste through the gut and promote bowel regularity. The two types of fiber work together to support digestive health.
May lower cancer risk
The plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.The lignans present in the flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.
Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells. Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.
Helps in treating type 2 diabeties
The lignans found in the flax seed can also improves levels of HA1C, which is a measure of average blood sugar over three months. The seeds also helps in controlling diabetes risk in other ways, too. In one small study, scientists gave people 0g, 13g, or 26g of flaxseed daily for 12 weeks.The participants all had prediabetes, and included obese men and post-menopausal overweight women. The people in the group who consumed 13g of flaxseed a day had lower blood glucose and insulin levels, and improved insulin sensitivity at the end of the study period.
Gives you natural and glowing skin
Some studies also found that flax seeds are good at providing nourishment for the skin. Flax seed oil led to significant decreases in skin sensitivity, and reduced skin roughness, and scaling, and also improving skin hydration and smoothness.
Helps in weight loss
Several studies suggest that flaxseed may aid weight management. One older study found that a drink with flax fiber tablets containing 2.5 grams of soluble fiber reduced feelings of hunger and overall appetite. This is likely because soluble fiber slows digestion and increases feelings of fullness, which may be especially useful if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, a large review of 45 studies found that supplementing with flaxseed resulted in significant reductions in body weight, BMI, and belly fat
Regulates Blood Pressure
Flaxseed is renowned for its ability to decrease blood pressure levels. This seed may be especially effective for those with high blood pressure levels. In fact, a small, 12-week study showed that taking 4 tablespoons (30 grams) of flaxseed per day reduced blood pressure in those with high levels Furthermore, according to a large review of 11 studies, taking flaxseed daily for more than 3 months may lower blood pressure levels by 2 mmHg. While that might seem insignificant, some research suggests that a reduction of 2 mmHg decreases the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease by 14% and 6%, respectively.
Flaxseed is a good source of insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, instead remaining in the digestive tract after eating. There, it absorbs water and adds bulk, which may help promote regularity. Consuming flaxseed with too little water can worsen constipation and may lead to an intestinal blockage. Also, too much flaxseed or flaxseed oil can cause diarrhea.
Risks of Flax Seeds
Athough Flax seeds has a lot of benefits it has disadvantages too. Taking too much quantity of flax seed may cause health issues. It is not beneficient to everyone. People should avoid flaxseed products or consult a doctor first if they:
- are using blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin
- are using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- are using cholesterol-lowering drugs
- have hormone-sensitive breast or uterine cancer
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- have an allergy to flaxseed
How to Consume
- More generally, people who eat flaxseed should avoid raw and unripe flaxseeds, as they may contain toxic compounds.
- Consume flaxseed ground and with plenty of fluid, to prevent digestive problems.
- Buy only small bottles of flaxseed oil in dark bottles and store them in the refrigerator, as the oil can spoil quickly.
- Avoid using the oil past the expiration date on the label.
- Avoid heating flaxseed oil in cooking. Add the oil to already prepared dishes and avoid microwaving to reheat.