Flax Seed Health Benefits, Plant Description, Medicinal Properties, Various Beneficial Uses, Possible Side Effects and FAQ
What is Flax seed?
Flax Seeds are the flowering seeds of the flax plant which are packed with various health benefits. Flax is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, including ‘alpha-linolenic’.
Flax plants are grown in Europe as well as in Mediterranean countries. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicines for thousands of years in Asia.
Benefits and Uses of Flax Seed
Flax seeds contain oil and soluble fiber. Today, this plant is often cultivated for its seeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fibers. Experts call it a ‘Super food’ that should be included in our daily diet.
Flax is an annual herbal plant. When planted densely for fiber, the plant reaches to the average height of 0.9 to 1.2 meters (3 to 4 feet), its thin stalks are 2.5 to 4 mm (about 0.10 to 0.15 inches) in diameter and the branches are concentrated at the top. The plants grown for the seed are short and multi-branched. These seeds are usually reddish-brown to golden yellow and contain phytoestrogens, which are similar to estrogen.
The following article describes the health benefits of Flax seed and other related things.
Nutritional value of per 100 g of Flax seeds
- Energy- 2.234 kj
- Carbohydrate- 28.88 g
- Sugar- 1.55 g
- Dietary Fiber- 27.3 g
- Fat- 42.16 g
- Saturated- 3.663 g
- Monounsaturated- 7.527 g
- Polyunsaturated- 28.730 g
- Omega 3- 22.8 g
- Omega 6- 5.9 g
- Protein- 18.29 g
- Thiamine- 1.644 mg
- Riboflavin- 0.161 mg
- Niacin- 3.08 mg
- Pantothenic Acid- 0.985 mg
- Pyridoxine- 0.473 mg
- Folate- 87 μg
- Vitamin C- 0.6 mg
- Calcium- 255 mg
- Iron- 5.73 mg
- Magnesium- 392 mg
- Phosphorus- 642 mg
- Potassium- 813 mg
- Zinc- 4.34 mg
Different Regional Names of Flax seeds
- English: Flax seeds
- Tamil: Ali Vidai/Ali Virai
- Malayalam: Cheruchana vithu
- Telugu : Bittu, alasi, atasi
- Kannada: Agase
- Hindi: Alasi, tisi
- Bengali: Marshina
- Gujarati: Alasi
- Marathi: Javasu
- Punjabi: Alasi
- Assamese: Tisi
Scientific Name: ‘Linum usitaTissimum’
Health Benefits of Flax seed
- Weight Loss
Nuts and seeds have an important place in weight loss diet planning and flax seeds are one of those which can aid weight loss. These small brown seeds contain fibers called ‘Mucilage’ that can suppress hunger and cravings and prevent you from eating unhealthy food. A review study even noted that flax seeds can help obese people lose weight.
- Reduces blood cholesterol level
These seeds can help in reducing the level of LDL or bad cholesterol. A study suggests that consuming flax seeds daily can help reduce cholesterol levels from 6 – 11 percent. This is possible due to high fiber and Lignan content presence. Both substances bind to bile acids, synthetic amphipathic molecules from cholesterol in the liver and remove them from the body through the digestive tract. These tiny seeds can be easily paired with cholesterol lowering drugs.
- Good for Heart Health
Flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial to the body in many ways, especially in maintaining good heart health. These seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in several laboratory tests. Healthy fats basically reduce inflammation of the arteries, often leading to various heart problems such as strokes and heart attacks.
- Reduce Blood Pressure
A natural way to reduce blood pressure is to consume flax seeds. According to a study published in Journal of nutrients in 2015, blood pressure was reported to be under control for participants who consumed flax seeds daily for more than 12 weeks. These seeds are rich in potassium, a nutrient that can help reduce pressure on the blood vessel wall, which helps in further lowering blood pressure.
According to some preliminary research, taking ‘Lignan’ (a compound found in flax seeds) daily can improve blood sugar levels. During the study, it was observed that people suffering from type 2 diabetes had a 19.7 percent decrease in their fasting blood sugar when 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder was supplemented every day for 1-2 months.
Some recent studies suggest that compounds in the flax seed may also protect against breast, prostate and colon cancer. In a laboratory study, it was found that the compounds present here could prevent tumor growth. According to a Canadian study of 6,000 women, consumption of flax seeds can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 18 percent. Yet much more research is needed in this field to come to any conclusion.
- Reduces Inflammation
ALA and Lignan – The two main compounds found in flax seeds can reduce inflammation caused by certain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and asthma. These compounds block the release of inflammatory agents that can contribute to inflammatory diseases. ALA has been observed to reduce inflammatory reactions in humans and Lignan has been found to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines in laboratory tests.
Flax seeds contain both dietary fiber- soluble and insoluble. These can help in increasing stool and ensuring easy bowel movement. Soluble fiber helps in softening the stool, while insoluble fibers help the digestive system to transfer waste through the intestines and increase bowel movement easily. Consuming flax seeds daily can be beneficial for people suffering from constipation and IBS. But they have to drink plenty of liquid throughout the day when their diet includes flax seeds.
Also Read: 16 Natural Ways to Increase Your Metabolism
- Skin Health
The ‘Lignan’ and several antioxidants present in the flax seeds prevent wrinkles. A study suggests that applying flaxseed oil on the skin can significantly reduce skin sensitivity, roughness and scaling. Fatty acids present in this seed help keep the skin smooth and soft. Moreover, it can even repair damaged hair, prevent hair loss, eczema and dandruff.
- Immune System Booster
The protein in the flax seed contains amino acids such as organic acid, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. These amino acids were found to protect our body from various fungal infections, thus improving our overall immunity.
- For Healthy Hair
Try eating more flax seeds with fish, nuts and other products if you are looking for healthy hair. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds can help nourish your hair and scalp and prevent dryness.
- For Brain Health
Flax seeds are also associated with brain function. Their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects can help brain cells stay healthy and protect against neurological diseases.
Also Read: 11 Amazing Curing Benefits of Coconut Oil
Side Effects of Flax Seed
Flax seeds are safe but sometimes overuse can lead to many side effects. These are basically gastrointestinal side effects that result-
There may also be allergic reactions. Flax seeds should be consumed in limited quantities and you should drink plenty of water to avoid any side effects. In some cases, it can block your intestines. The formation of large Lignin chemicals in your body can lead to such laxative effects. Consumption of flax seeds should be avoided if you notice any side effects.
NOTE: It should be used in the right quantity keeping in view the benefits and disadvantages of the flax seed as excessive use of any product can harm our health. The above mentioned information is based on trusted sources. It is advisable to consult a doctor before using flax seeds in medicinal fields in curing diseases.
The information included above about the benefits of using flax seed are only for knowledge purposes and based on trusted sources and studies. Please approach a doctor or specialist if you face any side effects from using it.
Also Read: Flax Seed Benefits (Assamese)
Q: What if we eat flax seeds everyday?
Ans: Studies reveal that using Flax seeds oil daily can reduce cholesterol by 6-11%. These studies indicate a 9-18% decline in the number of bad cholesterol (LDL) particles.
Q: Who should not eat Flax seeds?
Ans: People suffering from intestinal conditions should avoid consuming flax seeds. According to experts, excessive consumption of wet seeds without enough fluid can lead to intestinal blockage. It is particularly dangerous for scleroderma patients.
Q: How fast does the flax seed work?
Ans: Flax seed is an effective laxative. You will probably notice the results and bowel movements within 12 to 24 hours of taking the flax seeds. Make sure to drink water throughout the day to get relief from constipation.
Q: Does flaxseed reduce breast size?
Ans: In flax seeds – with fish like salmon and tuna – omega-3 fatty acids are high. This can help in controlling estrogen levels and eventually reducing breast size.
Q: Is flaxseed beneficial for hair health?
Ans: Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids present in flax seeds can help nourish your hair and scalp and prevent dryness.