The Scoop on Flax
Excerpt of article from the Cleveland Clinic (one of America’s Top Hospitals)
Flax, a relatively new term to most health-conscious individuals, has a much longer history than one would expect. Archaeologists date the consumption of flax back to 9,000 BC. In 650 BC, Hippocrates wrote of flax’s value in the treatment of abdominal pains. And in the 8th century, the medieval King Charlemagne was so convinced of flax’s importance to good health that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it regularly.
This blue-flowered crop has proven to be quite versatile, and aside from its textile uses, can be used as an ingredient in many healthy recipes. Flax is used to make linen and fine quality papers, as lamp oil and as an ingredient in a variety of food products and supplements. The use of flax in the diet is showing more and more promise in many health conditions like cancer, arthritis, diabetes and menopause. Even more promising is the role of flax in heart disease prevention.
Potential Benefits of Flax in Fighting Heart-Disease
Around 42% of flaxseed’s calories come from total fat. This total fat is comprised of a mix of different fatty acids: 73% polyunsaturated fat, 18% monounsaturated fat and only 9% saturated fat. What makes this so beneficial to heart health is that the majority of the polyunsaturated fat contained in flax is in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fatty acid (meaning the human body cannot create this fat from others and must get it from foods) and a precursor to the heart-disease fighting long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Flaxseed is the richest source of ALA in the North American diet and has many potential heart-disease fighting benefits:
- Reduces blood triglyceride values.
- Neutral effect on the good cholesterol, HDL.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Reduces platelet aggregation (clot formation) within arterial lining.
- Reduces inflammatory response.
- May protect against stroke.
The Benefits of Flaxseed
Excerpt from WEB MD by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Is flaxseed the new wonder food? Preliminary studies show that flaxseed may help fight everything from heart disease and diabetes to breast cancer.
Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries: flaxseed…research indicates that flax’s possible health benefits include reducing the risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Did you know that some research on statin drugs show only a 1% reduction in arterial plaque? Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a prescription drug, you should at least consider a healthier and far less expensive dietary supplement like flax seed.**
We strongly advise any change in your current medical treatment be consulted with and approved by your physician or other health care professional (see our medical disclaimer below).
In our society’s ever growing campaign for good health, finding natural products that provide a wide range of benefits and are easily and safely ingested has become the ultimate quest. One such naturally occuring substance is flax seeds. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and have been credited with combating heart disease by lowering blood pressure and helping to keep arteries clear. Studies also are being conducted to investigate its role in “dissolving” tumors, combating diabetes, treating and preventing arthritis, in addition to several other ailments. Below highlights some of the recent medical and scientific studies documenting some of the wide ranging benefits of flax seeds related to the fight against heart disease.
Dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake and cardiovascular risk. in the August 2006 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. < abstract >
SUMMARY: Study stated that sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil. Because of the remarkable cardioprotective effects of omega-3 fatty acids, consumption of food sources that provide omega-3 fatty acids should be increased in the diet to decrease CVD risk significantly.
Dietary flax seed in prevention of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. in the July 1997 issue of Atherosclerosis. < abstract >
SUMMARY: Stubdy showed that dietary flax seeds could significantly decrease plaque formation in rabbits.
The effect of flax seed cultivars with differing content of alpha-linolenic acid and lignans on responses to mental stress. in the December 2003 issue of Journal of the American College of Nutrition Online. < abstract >
Compared to the pre-treatment baseline diet, all three strains of flax significantly reduced blood pressure during mental stress induced by a frustrating mental task.
SUMMARY: Flax reduces certain responses to stress and thus may afford protection against atherosclerosis.
Flaxseed increased alpha-linolenic and eicosapentaenoic acid and decreased arachidonic acid in serum and tissues of rat dams and offspring. in the June 2003 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology. < abstract >
The effects of dietary flaxseed (FS), and defatted flaxseed meal (FLM) on serum and tissue fatty acid profiles were investigated.
SUMMARY: Flaxseed more than FLM, changed fatty acids profiles and flaxseed significantly reduced serum cholesterol.
Flaxseed and cardiovascular risk. in the January 2004 issue of Nutrition Reviews. < abstract >
Flaxseed has recently gained attention in the area of cardiovascular disease primarily because it is the richest known source of both alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the phytoestrogen, lignans, as well as being a good source of soluble fiber. Human studies have shown that flaxseed can modestly reduce serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, reduce postprandial glucose absorption, decrease some markers of inflammation, and raise serum levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and eicosapentaenoic acid. Data on the antiplatelet, antioxidant, and hypotensive effects of flaxseed, however, are inconclusive. More research is needed to define the role of this functional food in reducing cardiovascular risk.
The American Heart Association found that women with increased dietary intake of the isoflavones and lignans found in soy and flax decreased their risk for atherosclerosis and arterial degeneration. Flax is “…by far the richest source of lignans”, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, which also noted their beneficial effects on bone.
Every day more and more people are adding all natural, gluten-free and completely safe golden flax seeds to their daily breakfast, lunch or dinner routines.
FLAX Your way toward Better Health!!
OTHER POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF FLAX SEED **
The Cancer Letters cited a University of Toronto study demonstrating flax seed’s measurable contributions to the reduction of both the incidence and spread of breast cancer.
The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine reported a study showing a particular flax lignan to have reduced adult-onset diabetes by 80%.
Flaxseed inhibits metastasis and decreases extracellular vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts. in the November 2002 issue of Cancer Letters.
SUMMARY: It is shown that supplementation of 10% flaxseed, the richest source of mammalian lignans, to nude mice with established human breast tumors reduced tumor growth and metastasis.
* Please note: Heart Disease is a serious illness and you should not try to treat it on your own. See a doctor for help.