"Shuvomoy Banerjee is a popular science writer by his passion and a former scientist at Amity University, Delhi, India"
The magic superfood!
Many people may not be aware of flax seeds and their high nutritional values. Flax a kind of annual herb with blue flowers. This herb produces golden-yellow coloured seeds that are small and ‘flat’ in appearance. Flax seeds are also known as ‘linseed’ when we use the seeds for industrial purpose to make linen clothes. From ancient times the people have been making clothes with the help of linen fibres. Around a thousand years ago, evidence for using flax seeds was found in the ancient Egyptian civilization. Tiny flax seeds also are widely consumed as food all over the world. Because flaxseed is high in fibre and contains healthy nutritional component like omega-3 fatty acids, these seeds become very popular for maintaining good health. Interestingly, flax seeds have more calories than other nuts and seeds (It is estimated that 100 grams of flax seeds contain about 534 calories) but, being exceptionally nutritious, it is in high demand in the domestic and international food markets. It is scientifically proven that flax seeds provide important physiological benefits to our body and also boost immunity to fight against different diseases.
What are the nutritional benefits of flax seeds?
There is no comparison of flax seeds with other healthy foods in terms of losing weight. To reduce excess body weight often healthcare providers and dieticians prescribe to consume flax seeds. We need to keep in mind that flax seeds maintain normal body weight too! These seeds contain mucilage fibre which has two-ways benefits. Firstly, it fills the stomach quickly. As a consequence, appetite decreases. Therefore, the body refrains from consuming more unnecessary foods. So, we can lose weight easily. Secondly, flax seeds relieve us from the symptoms of constipation and keep the body healthy. Flax seeds contain protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, soluble as well as insoluble fibre, and most importantly they have ‘phytochemicals’ that possess versatile medicinal values. Flax seeds cloud be an important addition to the vegetarian diet as they can complement the deficiency of protein in the body. Scientists revealed an interesting fact that flax seeds and water mixture can be a good substitute for one egg! Flax seeds work very well to cure constipation problems. As they contain a substantial amount of fibres, they help in stool formation and normal bowel movements. People suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome will get better results by drinking moderate amounts of water with Flax seeds.
Flax seeds are helpful to reduce cholesterol
For those people who have high blood cholesterol levels, flax seeds are a very beneficial food supplement. It lowers bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. Scientists have found that eating flaxseed every day lowers the blood cholesterol level by about 8-11%. The scientific explanation behind the fact is that the phytochemical "lignan" present in flax seeds is combined with various metabolic compounds generated from cholesterol in the liver, enters the digestive tract and is removed from the body. Even lignans can be added to some cholesterol-lowering drugs to increase their effectiveness.
The important roles of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid in flax seeds
As mentioned earlier, flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are very beneficial in keeping our heart healthy. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid which has great potentiality to reduce inflammation. It has been found that the use of flax seeds relieves certain diseases including, asthma and Parkinson's disease. The point of fact is that the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood are decreased by lignan and alpha-linolenic acid. As a result, the incidence of inflammatory diseases is greatly reduced. Scientific investigation showed that flex seeds decrease the inflammation of arteries and veins and help to prevent strokes, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest. Additionally, different research studies demonstrated that regular consumption of flax seeds reduce high blood pressure. The adequate amount of potassium found in flax seeds helps to reduce high blood pressure by stretching (vasodilation) of the blood vessel wall.
Flax seeds regulate blood glucose level
Researchers found the positive role of flax seeds in improving the glycemic status of pre-diabetic patients. Flax seeds showed a significant-good impact on lowering the blood glucose level in insulin-resistant patients. Studies have revealed a fascinating fact that ‘lignan’ content in flax seeds are responsible for lowering blood glucose level. If the patient with type-2 diabetes starts taking flax seeds on a regular basis, blood glucose levels will drop by about 19.7% after two months.
Flax seeds can fight against cancers!
Flax seeds contribute a lot to the prevention of breast, colon and prostate cancer. The essential phytochemicals in flax seeds are effective in reducing tumours. Some interesting studies showed the efficiency of ‘phytoestrogen’ especially found in flax seeds. Such phytochemicals bind with the estrogen receptors of body cells. Thus, phytoestrogen blocks the attachment site of estrogen receptors and inhibits the association with their ligand molecules. Due to interruption in receptor-ligand mediated signalling for cellular proliferation, breast tumours are regressed. However, more research works are needed to find out how these phytochemicals work to prevent cancers.
Flax seeds are essential for women health
Women experience 'hot flashes' symptoms if they have breast cancer and during the time of menopause. Regular use of flax seeds reduces the symptoms of hot flash by 58%. Flax seeds also maintain the beauty and health of the skin. As it contains lots of antioxidants, which help to reduce the dryness and appearance of wrinkles on the skin. In addition, regular use of flax seeds also stop hair loss, eczema and dandruff.
Is there side effects of flax seeds?
Excessive consumption of flax seeds can cause health problems. Although flax seeds have many good nutritional values, it contains small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides and phytic acids, which are known as 'anti-nutrient' elements. They often combine with mineral salts to form toxins, which are harmful to the body. Also, eating lots of raw and whole flax seeds often show indigestion problems. As a result, symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, vomiting, flatulence etc. may occur. Therefore, flax seeds should be eaten well roasted and grounded form, as the nutrients inside the seed coat can be easily come out and absorbed by the body. If someone has hemorrhagic fever caused by the dengue or chikungunya virus, flax seeds should be avoided, as they prevent blood clotting and can cause excessive bleeding from various organs. Many people are found allergic to flax seeds, in that case, they should consult a doctor before adding flax seeds to their diet. In addition, women should not use flax seeds during pregnancy and any hormonal problems.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shuvomoy Banerjee