FLAXSEED (LINSEED) & FLAX OIL
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Flaxseed (linseed) (yellow or brown) is usually regarded as the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) that is partly converted into EPA & DHA – more active omega-3 forms – in our body.
Just two tablespoons of ground flaxseed may provide you with almost 150% of the daily recommendation for omega-3, on condition it is efficiently converted in the body to EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, it is suggested that not all of us have the ability to convert ALA into EPA & DHA sufficiently.
Flaxseed is very high in fibre. As little as two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds contains equal amount of fibre found in a cup of cooked oatmeal!
Flaxseeds are also high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, copper, magnesium, manganese, or vitamin B6.
Flax has many benefits due to the Omega 3, fibre, protein and lignans found in flaxseed.
The seeds are beneficial for coping with obesity, improving digestion, metabolism, soothing nerves, boosting immunity, and lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
American Cancer Society stated that flaxseeds contain antioxidants called lignans which are believed to fight cancer.
The New York Academy of Sciences discovered that omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds and other foods help to restore insulin sensitivity in diabetics even if their diet is high in other fats!
One study demonstrated a 20% decrease in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome after 3 months on a diet plan that included 30 grams (1 ounce) of ground flaxseed per day. It also lowered blood pressure, fasting glucose (sugar) level, and helped to decrease central obesity which is quite an accomplishment for a food that is over 70% fat.
According to the John Hopkins Medical Center, regular consumption of fibre-rich foods such as flaxseed is very helpful in coping with obesity and diabetes. Flaxseeds are rich in soluble fibre, which helps you feel full faster, thus reducing your appetite and preventing overeating.
This fibre in flaxseed also regulates your blood sugar levels and increases metabolism.
Japanese researchers discovered that a substance found in flaxseeds and called SDG, reduces visceral fat and fat accumulating around the livers in obese mice. In addition, it also reduced excess fatty tissue in the blood.
GROUND FLAXSEED VS FLAXSEED OIL
Since the omega-3 fatty acids are present in the oil part of the seed, the flaxseed oil contains three times more ALA than ground flaxseed. On the other hand, flaxseed is a whole food and therefore contains other important nutrients that are not included in flax oil: dietary fibre, manganese, copper, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6, or lignan phytonutrients which have hormone-balancing and cardiovascular benefits. The solution, therefore, is to use fresh flaxseed oil and fresh ground flax seeds at the same time. Due to high fibre content, ground flaxseed can lower high blood sugar levels, while flax oil doesn’t have this ability.
BOTH OIL & GROUND SEED MUST BE FRESH
The seeds must be ground because otherwise they pass through the gastrointestinal tract undigested. Pre-ground flaxseeds are available too, but it is better to buy whole seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder or blender before eating.
Whole flaxseeds can be stored at room temperature for up to one year while ground seeds should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for no longer than 1 month.
Keep in mind that ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil may turn rancid quickly. For this reason you need to minimize their exposure to heat, light, and air by keeping them in the refrigerator in a darkened (dimmed) glass containers with the lids on tight.
I personally prefer freshly ground flax seed as any flax oil I have tried by now was bitter which means that omega-3 already started oxidising and getting rancid.
If you want a fresh flax oil you need to buy an oil press and make oil at home (video >).
TAKE FLAXSEED WITH PLENTY OF WATER
Consuming ground flaxseed make sure you drink plenty of water between meals, as flaxseed is very high in fibre and will absorb a lot of water from the gastro-intestinal tract, leading to constipation, if your water intake is insufficient. On the other hand, if you drink enough water flax seed will help to treat constipation as it improves colon motility.
DON’T USE FLAX OIL FOR COOKING
Don’t use flax oil for cooking as heat can turn healthy fats into harmful ones. The oil’s low smoke point produces toxic by-products when heated.
– Information about quality of ALA in flaxseed oil in comparison with omega-3 fish oil is included in the article on OMEGA-3 >
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– National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil.
– National Institutes of Health Medline Plus: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil.
– World’s Healthiest Foods: Flaxseed.
– Mayo Clinic: Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.