What Are the Health Benefits of Flax Seed Oil?
Flax seed oil is an edible oil extracted from the herb flax. The plant may be more commonly known as linseed in some regions, but both names in the vernacular refer to the annual identified as Linum usitatissimum. In addition to its functional uses, the food-grade oil is of important nutritional value, containing phytochemicals like lignans and essential fatty acids.
The plant has stems that grow up to 4 feet and stands erect. Its leaves are long, ranging from 10 to 20 millimeters, and wide in the middle. The flowers have five petals that are violet in color but to the lighter hues, even looking white at a distance. Varieties that have bright red flowers are not uncommon. The fruit is a composed of two or more ovule-bearing structures called carpels that split open at maturity, exposing a number of glossy seeds that may be golden yellow or brown.
Flax is one of the crops well documented as far back as the earliest civilizations in the Fertile Crescent, but its domestication has been alleged to have started much earlier as evidenced by flax products dated to the prehistoric times.
In Northern Europe there is strong evidence that the use of its fiber as clothing dates back to the New Stone Age. In addition to its age-old heritage as a fiber crop, flax is now cultivated for human nutrition around the world.
Against Carcinogenic Agents
Cancer has been closely tied to the unmitigated proliferation of free radicals. When the body experiences an imbalance between the number of free radicals and the agents that detoxify these highly reactive substances, the body suffers from oxidative stress, which is believed to be responsible for the formation of carcinogens.
Flax seed oil contains an abundance of polyphenolic substances called lignans, one of the most commonly known antioxidants naturally occurring in plants, and its strong antioxidant properties are purported to prevent the progression of abnormal cells in the body.
Against Inflammatory Conditions
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Inflammation begins when signaling molecules trigger all substances implicated in fighting off pathogens to cram into the area of infection. It is now widely accepted that fatty acids act against inflammatory agents in the body, and thus of special note in the treatment of arthritis, lupus, asthma, and complications due to infection. There are only two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (LA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), and both of which are present in flax seed oil. Not surprisingly, flax seed oil has the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids of all vegetable oils.
Against Cardiovascular Diseases
Having high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, flax seed oil is widely touted for its role in lowering cholesterol. In fact, it has often been reported to help individuals with very unhealthy levels of bad cholesterol. Cohorts of patients diagnosed with poor coronary artery health have benefited from regular intake of omega 3 fatty acids, and flax seed oil has been involved in many well-controlled clinical trials.
Flax seed oil is available in liquid and softgel forms at your local or internet vitamin store. Always choose name brands like Barleans and Now Foods to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase for consumption.
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Flax seed crackers
Image by papertygre Oven-dehydrated golden flax seed crackers. Yum.
soaking golden flax seeds
Image by sweetbeetandgreenbean for the recipe: sweetbeetandgreenbean.net/2010/03/21/coconut-and-oat-panc...
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