Flaxseed is highly prized seed for its impressive nutritional profile and health incentives. It is scientifically termed as Linum usitatissimum which denotes the “most useful” seed and also known as common flax, linseed oil or linseed. In olden days, flaxseed was majorly used to manufacture linen fabric in Western Countries, used for weaving bed sheets, underclothes and table linen.
Flaxseed is a winter plant which grows up to 1.2m tall with lean stem bearing a pure pale blue flower. The fruit is round-shaped with several brown glossy seeds embedded which are shaped like an apple pie. It is mainly cultivated as a commercial crop in European, Mediterranean and North American regions.
In India it is cultivated in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is known by several vernacular names such as Alsi in Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tishi in Bengali, Agasi in Kannada, Aviselu in Telugu, Ali vidai in Tamil and Cheruchana vithu in Malayalam.
Flaxseed is available in two varieties based on their colour brown and yellow linseed. Both the varieties have a more or less similar nutritional profile, however, the yellow flaxseed oil contains very less amount of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. Brown flaxseeds are used to produce a vegetable oil called linseed oil or flaxseed oil, it is obtained by pressing and solvent extraction process. Yellow flaxseed oil is mostly used in paints, fibre and cattle feed.
Flax is usually cultivated for its seeds, which is ground into a meal or pressed into linseed oil or turned into a nutritional supplement or as timber in wood products. Flax fibres are used to make linen which is two to three times stronger as cotton fibres.
The immense amount of nutrients present in flaxseed include essential fatty acids, dietary fibre, antioxidants, protein, lignans which offer to lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Moreover, flaxseed is been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine for many years. Nowadays, flaxseeds are largely available in the form of powder, tablets, capsules and consumed as dietary supplements to avert the risk of chronic diseases.
Therapeutic Incentives Of Flaxseeds
The goodness of omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds hinders the growth of cancer cell formation and its development. Studies have proven that consuming oils rich in omega 3 fatty acids shields the body against breast cancer and prostate cancers. Flaxseeds with a plentiful amount of lignans exhibit antiangiogenic properties and stop tumor growth. The lignans content in flaxseeds 800 times higher than any other foods. Moreover, adding flaxseeds as part of a healthy diet regularly is valuable in averting the risk of various types of cancers. Read Also: Poppy Seeds: Incredible Benefits of Khus Khus For Overall Health
Promotes Heart Health
Being essentially rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, phytosterols and Omega 3 fatty acids flaxseeds can greatly improve heart health and are one of the best foods that lower blood pressure. The richness of lignans lower triglycerides level, reduce inflammation and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. This in turn eases the flow of blood and other food substances via the tubular structures in the circulatory system – arteries and veins. Hence, the normal blood pressure range of 110/70 to 139/89 is maintained in the system. Furthermore, phytosterols play a key role in lowering LDL cholesterol and prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine.
Regulates Blood sugar
The presence of ample amounts of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre and lignans in flaxseeds decrease insulin resistance and lower the risk of prediabetes and stabilize blood sugar levels. Regular addition of flaxseeds in the diet remarkably improves insulin sensitivity, controls blood pressure and delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The two vital nutrients lignans and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) in flaxseeds possess powerful anti-inflammatory effects and lower inflammation associated with Parkinson’s and asthma by blocking the secretions of pro-inflammatory agents. In addition, it also lowers the inflammation in the plaque buildup arteries i.e. atherosclerosis and averts the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Several studies have shown that ground flaxseed mixed with cereals or curd when consumed twice daily remarkably lowered the intensity of hot flushes in women during menopause within two weeks. This is attributed to the presence of phytoestrogens which mimics the work of estrogen hormones and compensates for the loss of estrogen hormones during menopause and reduces other PMS symptoms.
Flaxseeds are generally considered safe for adults when consumed in smaller amounts. However, adding too much of flaxseeds in the diet may cause gastrointestinal side effects like bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea, cramping, constipation and diarrhea.
Flaxseed with a profuse nutritional content is one of the valuable seeds to be added in the diet to reap its innumerable health benefits. The wellness incentives of flaxseeds include prevent cancers, lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke and regulates the blood sugar levels to mention a few.