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The Health Properties of Flaxseed

Aug 17, 2007
Flax seeds are larger than sesame seeds with a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. It has colors that range from amber to reddish brown. Ground seeds feature a soft crunch and are easily absorbed. Flaxseed oil is nut-flavored oil that has a high nutritional profile. The flax plant has provided food as well as fiber for clothing as far back as recorded history. Flaxseed oil also contains an omega-3 fatty acid that is being investigated for its ability to reduce risk of many conditions including hypertension, stroke, some cancers and immune and inflammatory disorders and certain skin ailments. Flaxseed oil is highly unsaturated and good for the heart. They also have lignin, which are a type of fiber. Lignins are also a type of chemical similar to the human hormone estrogen. Bacteria in the digestive tract convert lignins into estrogen like substances that are thought to have anti-tumor properties and may reduce the activity of free radicals.

Recent studies have shown that men with prostate cancer who eat about three tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day were able to slow the progress of their cancer between the time of diagnosis and time of surgery. Similar studies show that women with breast cancer who ate a flaxseed muffin daily had slower tumor growth rates. We need to wait for further studies before we can say flax can prevent or cure cancer. There is a fine line between just enough and too much which can cause cancer cells to multiply faster. Studies have found that postmenopausal women who eat about an ounce of ground flaxseed every day will affect the way estrogen is handled. It helps offer protection against breast cancer but doesn't interfere with estrogen's role in normal bone maintenance. Research has shown in preliminary results that flaxseeds can reduce total cholesterol by an average of six percent for women who are not on hormone replacement therapy.

For women trying to get pregnant, the lignin's found in flaxseed can promote natural ovulation and extend the progesterone dominant second half of the cycle. Consistent ovulation improves their chances of conception.

For women who are experiencing pre-menopausal symptoms such as headaches, sleep difficulties, breast cysts, fluid retention, anxiety, lowered sex drive and heavy bleeding can use flaxseed to help restore normal hormonal balance.

Flax is said to be heart healthy. Flax is an essential fatty acid important for cell membranes, regulation of blood pressure and other functions. This omega-3 acid may reduce blood clotting reducing the chance of a fatal heart attack and lowering total blood cholesterol. It also is known to lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Flax is also found in soybean oil, walnuts and canola oil.

Flaxseed is rich in fiber and heart-healthy it is also reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals. It can relieve the constipation or diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome and helps to stabilize blood sugar in patients with diabetes. Magnesium also is found in flaxseeds and help to reduce the severity of asthma by keeping airways open and relaxed. It prevents the blood vessel spasms that lead to migraine attacks and generally promotes relaxation and helps to restore normal sleep patterns.

Flaxseeds are pleasant tasting and can taste good sprinkled on salads, cooked vegetables or cereals. Although the oil is very tasty too, it's also very expensive. Here are some hints on how to use flaxseeds.

Whole seeds merely pass through the system so grind the seeds or chew them very slowly. It's best to grind the seeds just before using them to preserved flavor and nutrition. Although there are two different colors of seeds, brown and yellow, there is no nutritional difference between them.

Combine flaxseed flour with wheat flour for all types of breads and even pancakes. Bread bakers are using flaxseed to promote their bread as lower carbohydrates.

Ready-made breads, muffins, breakfast bars and cereals can be found in many grocery stores.

The oil is prone to spoil quickly; it comes in dark colored bottles to extend its shelf life. It does need to be refrigerated and pay close attention to the expiration date. The more expensive "cold-pressed" oil is no better than any other kind.

Flaxseed oil can't be used for frying.

Pregnant or breast feeding women should avoid eating a lot of flax.

Some might have an allergic reaction to flaxseeds.

Don't use the supplements; eat the foods that contain flaxseed instead.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. Get a great selection of health products at http://www.shop4betterhealth.com
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