Properties and Benefits of Flax Seeds: Linseeds or flax seeds are used in a variety of baked goods all over the world. They are the seeds with the highest content of Omega-3 in the plant world. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for both cardiovascular and nervous system health, promote brain development in children and ensure skin health. If this isn’t impressive enough, cooking them at high temperatures has no effect on their fatty acid content, meaning they preserve this precious nutrient entirely.
Flax seeds also contain 7 times more lignans than sesame seeds. Lignans are phytochemicals (natural plant compounds) with powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, which contribute immensely to an overall good health. Moreover, they boast an extraordinary B vitamin, mineral and vitamin E content.
Flax seeds are the ‘offspring’ of the flax plant, scientifically known as Linum usitatissimum. There are two major varieties of flax seeds: golden and brown. Despite the difference in color, the two varieties both have the same nutritional value. What makes flax seeds healthy is, first of all, their high lignan content.
Lignans are natural substances with outstanding anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer effects. Recent research suggests that a generous intake may offer protection against breast cancer due to the fact that lignans are metabolized into plant hormones called phytoestrogens. Since they cannot be synthesized by our body, diet is our only source of such nutrients. Flax seeds, and flaxseed oil, are the best source of lignans, followed by sesame seeds.
In addition to this, flax seeds are rich in antioxidants. Usually, when we think about antioxidant-rich foods, fruits and vegetables are the first to come into our mind. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) , flax seeds have such a high polyphenol content that they outrank 91 other fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the US.
What makes flax seeds extremely healthy is their amazing Omega-3 content, subtype ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). To be more exact, 100 g of flax seeds provide 938% of the recommended daily intake of Omega-3, making them the richest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids known to man. Fatty acids are essential for good health: not only are they crucial for the normal functioning of our metabolism, but they also support brain activity and promote cardiovascular health.
An adequate intake of fatty acids stimulates circulation, lowers blood pressure as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Flax seeds, flaxseed oil (aka linseed oil), walnuts, hemp oil and other vegetables oils are all rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
This peculiar little seeds boasts other wonderful health benefits which derive from its generous vitamin and mineral content. For instance, flax seeds contain good amounts of B vitamins such as folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamine. About 100 g of linseed provide an astonishing 137% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B1, or thiamine. Vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to the collapse of the nervous system .
Also, linseed supply our body with 133% of the RDI of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin which contributes to skin beauty. For more information on the properties and health benefits of vitamins (and minerals), you can go to this page.
As far as minerals are concerned, flax seeds are an excellent source of copper (124%). A good intake of copper is believed to help prevent premature hair graying. In addition to this, flax seeds contain good amounts of calcium, potassium and zinc and more than generous amounts of iron, magnesium and manganese. What does this mean more exactly? It means that flax seeds promote strong bones, help regulate heart pressure, stimulate immunity, prevent anemia, support muscle activity and have antioxidant effects.
Eating flax seeds now and then is beneficial for overall health, especially when part of a balanced, varied diet. A good alternative would be flax seed sprouts, if you can tolerate their somewhat spicy taste. Flax seed oil, also known as linseed oil, and milled flax are also products with similar nutritional value and recommended for consumption.
Unfortunately, flax seeds are a bit pricey and not many people can afford to eat them regularly. Although they boast an over-the-average health value, you needn’t spend hard-earned money on them alone. There are other cheaper, healthy food options which can easily add to the same wonderful health benefits. The secret to a good diet and healthy lifestyle is variety and moderation.