Flaxseed comes from the flax plant, an annual herb that is probably one of the oldest fiber plants in the world. Flaxseeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals but they specifically owe their power to omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and fiber which are found in huge quantities in flaxseeds. It is seen that by including flaxseeds in one’s daily diet a person can get protection from numerous diseases. Flaxseeds are not only good for one’s health; they are also very beneficial to one’s skin and hair too. It therefore makes sense to include a handful of flaxseeds in one’s diet daily to fully extract its benefit.
Flaxseeds are loaded with:
Omega 3 Fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential acids which mean that the body doesn’t produce them, hence we have to consume foods which contain it and nothing can be better than flaxseed which contain about 50-60% more omega 3 fatty acids than fish oil. Thus for vegetarians, it becomes the single largest source of omega 3 fatty acids.
A chemical compound, this is found in the hull of flaxseed, lignan is a natural antioxidant which effectively neutralizes free radicals and slows down the ageing process. Besides this, lignans are also phytoestrogens – naturally occurring plant compounds that have an estrogen-like effect which stabilize the hormone levels in the body effectively preventing diseases like breast, endometrium, and prostate cancer which occur as a result of hormonal imbalance. Flaxseeds are one of the greatest plant sources of lignans with this tiny seed providing lignan up to 700 more times as compared to whole grains.
Flax is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. A single tablespoon of flax provides up to 3 gms of fiber. A fiber rich diet is necessary for a healthy heart and colon, not to forget the immense benefits it has for diabetic patients.
Benefits of Flaxseed for Health
Recent study conducted in this field is pointing to the fact that flaxseed might offer some sort of protection against colon cancer and breast cancer. Two components in flaxseed – lignans and omega-3 fatty acids are the reason why scientists are optimistic about flaxseed being a cancer fighting agent. Omega 3 fatty acids impede the growth and occurrence of tumor cells. Lignans too not only halt the spread of cancer cells but also block enzymes that cause cancer in the first place.
Having flaxseeds on a regular basis can improve blood sugar levels in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Antioxidants present in flaxseed help improve the insulin sensitivity in people who are intolerant towards glucose. Moreover, lignans that are present in flaxseed help prevent the onset of diabetes. A fiber rich diet releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream thus reducing the sudden sugar spikes that is associated with diabetes.
3. Cardiovascular Diseases
Consumption of ALA rich omega-3 fatty acids lowers the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Flaxseeds are choc-a-bloc with omega 3 fatty acids, so much so that taking just 2-6 tablespoons of flax daily can lower your risk of heart disease by a considerable margin. Omega-3 lowers the bad cholesterol in the body and also reduces inflammation which leads to atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries. In atherosclerosis there is plaque buildup in the artery which causes a person to suffer from coronary diseases. By keeping the arteries free, flaxseed protects one from many life-threatening illnesses.
4. Lowers Cholesterol
Eating flaxseeds daily can lower your bad cholesterol. This is made possible by the superb combination of ingredients in flaxseed, namely omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans. All three of them combine to reduce the bad cholesterol or LDL in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in inhibiting the release of inflammatory agents into the body. Since flaxseeds contain huge amounts of omega-3 fatty acids they become a good source to check inflammation in the body. Patients suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory diseases stand to benefit from consuming flaxseed daily.
Flaxseed is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber; therefore people suffering constipation would do well to consume flaxseeds every day. Those who are wary of taking store bought laxatives to ease their condition can go for this natural laxative.
7. Post-Menopausal Symptoms
Women facing menopausal problems should consume flaxseed as lignans present in flaxseed are phytoestrogens which help moderate the estrogen levels. Thus it helps control hot flushes and mood swings in women. It is seen that pre-menopausal women too benefit from consuming flaxseed.
8. Helps in Weight Loss
Flaxseeds have immense weight loss benefits. When a person ingests flaxseed, the fiber expands inside the body giving the person a sense of fullness. Since fiber moves slowly through the system, a person tends to feel fuller for a long time. These two actions ensure that a person’s eats less and stays away from food for a longer period of time, both of which help a person to lose weight.
If you are suffering from depression and are fed up of consuming anti-depressants then flaxseed might be the cure you are looking for. A Japanese study has found that those people who are depressed have low levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids in their body. Foods like walnuts and flaxseed have good concentration of these acids thus flaxseeds can help reduce depression.
Benefits of Flaxseed for Skin
10. Moisturizes The Skin
The oil content in flaxseeds helps to keep the skin moisturized and hydrated. Signs of ageing are less visible in a well-moisturized skin. When you apply a moisturizer containing flaxseed, it not only locks in the moisture but also prevents external irritants to enter and clog the pores. Flaxseeds contain antioxidants which fight against free radicals that damage the skin.
11. Keeps Skin Healthy
Since flaxseed acts as a wonderful moisturizer to the skin, our skin remains soft and hydrated. Dry skin can lead not only to various skin conditions but also signs of ageing are more apparent in a person with dry skin. The oil content in flaxseed gives your skin a shiny and fresh look making you look younger.
12. Heals the Skin
Flax seed because of its anti-inflammatory properties heals the skin quickly. Thus rashes, skin irritations, tissue inflammation get healed quickly. Certain skin diseases like acne, dermatitis and psoriasis also get healed quickly if one consumes flaxseed.
Benefits of Flaxseed for Hair
13. Relief from Scalp Disorders
Flaxseed is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which is good for the hair. Consumption of omega 3 helps you rid your hair of various scalp diseases such as dandruff, eczema and psoriasis. Taking flaxseed or applying flaxseed oil to the roots of the hair helps in reducing the dryness and itchiness caused by scalp diseases. Dandruff is caused by dry skin and shedding of dead skin cells by the scalp. Flaxseed oil provides sufficient nourishment to the scalp thereby preventing dryness and reducing the incidence of dandruff.
14. Promotes Hair Growth
Varying levels of estrogen in the body leads to shrinkage of hair follicles which results in hair loss and hair thinning. The phytoestrogens present in flaxseed help to balance the hormone levels in the body thus promoting hair growth. Omega –3 contained in flaxseed helps nourish the hair follicles from within which makes hair strong. Women suffering from hair loss problem can see good results by regularly applying flaxseed oil to their hair.