December 09, 2020 4 min read
Flaxseeds are the seed of the flax plant, from which linen is obtained. They have been in the human diet for centuries, but it's only recently that they've gained status as a superfood. Flaxseed oil is obtained by cold pressing flaxseeds, and has similar benefits to whole flaxseeds. Here are some reasons why they have been inducted into the superfood hall of fame.
Many plant-based foods contain a group of compounds known as lignans. Flaxseed oil has more lignans than any other food. Lignans help to prevent the development of cancer cells by preventing them from developing new blood vessels and growing.
In addition to this, friendly bacteria in the digestive tract break down lignans to form enterolactone and enterodiol, both of which play an important role in helping to prevent hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate cancer.
Flaxseed oil has higher levels of antioxidants than some of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits. The antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress, protecting the body from cancer and premature aging. Antioxidants also help to lower inflammation, which has been known to contribute to the development of diseases like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and heart disease.
Flaxseed oil has the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Take that, fish. This means that vegans don't have to worry about where they'll get their nutritional dose of omega 3 fats. The most common omega 3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds is Alpha Linoleic Acid or ALA. ALA retains its nutritional benefits when incorporated into baked goods, so flaxseeds can be ground and used in baking recipes.
ALA promotes heart health by protecting blood vessels from oxidative stress, inflammatory damage, and preventing the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessels in the heart. Healthy fats in flaxseed oil also help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of developing high blood pressure. The fatty acids also improve bone density and reduce the risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the liver, fat, and muscles fail to respond well to insulin and are unable to use up blood glucose, a condition called insulin resistance. This leads to high blood sugar levels.
When this happens, the pancreas steps in and tries to make more insulin, but with time it gets overwhelmed, leading to higher blood sugar levels, which eventually develops into type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance can also lead to obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
A number of studies have shown that flaxseed oil lowers insulin resistance and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by slowing down digestion. This prevents the quick release of glucose into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels low.
Excess cholesterol in the body could accumulate in the blood vessels, leading to a risk of heart disease and stroke. Flaxseed has been found to increase the levels of High-Density Lipoprotein (good) cholesterol, which helps remove excess cholesterol from the blood while lowering levels of Low-Density Lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, which is harmful to the body.
Although it isn't a complete protein, i.e. a protein containing all essential amino acids, flaxseed oil is a good source of high-quality proteins and is especially rich in the following amino acids:
Lignans found in flaxseeds are phytoestrogens. These are plant compounds that work more or less like the estrogen produced in animals and humans. Phytoestrogens have a number of health benefits and can provide relief for a number of hormone-related health conditions.
Flaxseed oil lacks the soluble and insoluble fiber that makes flaxseeds so good for digestion. However, for people who can't digest all that fiber, flaxseed oil is the way to go.
It increases the regularity of bowel movements and softens digestive material, making it move easily through the digestive tract and relieving symptoms of constipation. It can also prevent or slow down diarrhea.
When the skin dries up, wrinkles form, making you look old and tired. Flaxseed oil has been reported to hydrate the skin, reducing the number of wrinkles, and making the skin smooth. Flaxseed oil can also reduce the severity of some of the symptoms of a form of eczema called atopic dermatitis.
It is important to note that flaxseed oil is delicate and begins to break down as soon as it is exposed to air and light. To prevent this, keep it in a dark, airtight container, in a cool place.
Oils get a bad rap in many health circles, but the truth is that there are some really healthy ones out there and flaxseed oil is one of them. Check out its benefits and make it part of your diet.