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What's So Special About Linseed?

Apr 27, 2008
Linseed is a product of the Flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). Nearly everyone knows some of the uses of this marvelous plant, such as its use as a boiled oil used in oil based paints, glazing putties for window applications and as a wood grain protector/enhancer.

What you may not know is that raw seeds, have many health and nutritional benefits. Linseeds have up to 800 times the lignans, or healthful plant hormones, of other foods. Unlike hormones produced by the human body, lignans do not stimulate cancerous cell growth.

Linseed contains numerous beneficial components including Palmitic, Stearic, Arachidic and Oleic fatty acids. Perhaps the most important of these components are Linoleic and alpha-Linolenic acid.

Linoleic acid is a found in the cell membranes and is essential for proper production of prostaglandins and absolutely necessary to proper cell functioning. Linoleic acid is considered an omega-6 fatty acid. Deficiencies of this health aid include: dry or brittle hair, hair loss, and a marked reduction of the body's ability to heal. While this acid is relatively common and is found in cooking oils, most of the nutritional and health value is eliminated during the cooking process. To get the benefits of such oils, you would have to consume 1 or more tablespoons of polyunsaturated plant oil per day - an unappetizing thought.

Alpha-Linolenic acid belongs to the omega-3 fatty acid group. This fatty acid group is known for the prevention of heart disease, arrhythmia and the reduction of inflammation leading to such circulatory problems as atherosclerosis. There are studies pertaining to the reduction of stroke and cancer risks, as well.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also helpful in relieving night sweats and hot flashes which occur during menopause. Raw linseed itself should be used; raw linseed oil is highly unstable and many healthful qualities are lost when heated to extract the oil. Cold-pressed linseed oil, although safe when used as soon after purchase, lacks many of the beneficial qualities of the raw seed.

Boiled linseed should never be taken internally. There are no health benefits; the thick, chemically changed resultant oil is non-digestible and harmful. Remember, boiled oil is a wood preservative not a food.

Linseeds, when wetted, have high mucilage content and are an excellent source of fiber. Linseed is widely touted as essential in bowel cleansing and maintaining regularity. Bulk fiber is equally beneficial in treating constipation and diarrhea and therefore, flaxseed is an excellent treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. As with any bulking agent, a spoonful of linseeds taken with or before a meal causes a feeling of fullness and reduces hunger. Weight loss from both bowel cleansing and reduced intake of food are documented.

Linseed has an excellent nutty taste and can be sprinkled on salads, added to cereals or mixed into fruit smoothies. Be sure to drink at least 8 ounces of water when taking linseed. This enables the mucilage to form and is essential to providing enough moisture for the seed to be properly digested.

A mere table spoon of linseed is the health equivalent in lignans, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of 30 cups of broccoli. Imagine eating 30 cups of vegetables every day! You would need to consume 50 slices of whole wheat bread to get the fiber equivalent of that same tablespoon of linseed.

With all of the health benefits and convenience, and with no known ill side effects, linseeds may be one of nature's most perfect foods. You owe it to your health to give them a try.
About the Author
Arthur Martin has been in the wholefoods industry for many years, and is an expert on using natural foods to improve health. To find out more about Linseed and their health benefits, visit his site.
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