The Amazing Health Benefits Of Flax Seeds (Full Report)

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The Amazing Health Benefits Of Flax Seeds
The Amazing Health Benefits Of Flax Seeds Graphic © Background image: Pixabay (PD)

Here’s my full report on flax seeds including nutritional benefits, phytochemistry, traditional uses and scientific research!

The Amazing Health Benefits Of Flax Seeds

Improved Digestion:

The dietary fiber in flaxseed, including both soluble and insoluble fiber, promotes digestive health. It aids in bowel regularity and may help prevent constipation. Ground flaxseed provides a lot of soluble dietary fiber and a mucilage that acts as a lubricant to the digestive system, allowing relief from constipation and improved digestive function. Prolonged use of laxatives can cause weakness of the bowel and further reliance on these medicines. More “gentle” fiber, such as that found in flax can help towards restoring bowel tone. [2]

Cardiovascular Health (Blood Pressure Reduction):

Flaxseed’s high ALA content is linked to improved cardiovascular health. It helps in reducing blood pressure, improving lipid profiles, and lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. The lignans in flaxseed also contribute to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels. Scientific studies have shown that flaxseed is one of the best dietary aids for reducing hypertension in patients with peripheral artery disease. In one recent trial the resulting significant changes in blood pressure, after 6 months of eating 30 grams of milled flaxseed a day, correlated with higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid and lignan in the patients’ blood. [3][4]

Fights Cancer:

The lignans in flaxseed, particularly secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), have been associated with reduced risks of various cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer. These lignans are thought to modulate hormone metabolism and inhibit tumor growth. Flax has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer cells – various trials and observations have provided promising support for this tendency with improved health and reduced risk of mortality in breast cancer patients. The healthy fats in flaxseed are also recommended for reducing the risk of recurrence of prostate cancer. [5][6]

Cardiovascular Health:

Omega-3 fatty acids and lignan in flax can have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health by reducing LDL-cholesterol levels. This has been demonstrated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study and could lead to a reduced risk of heart disease! [7][8]

Diabetes Support:

Flaxseed is regarded as being of benefit in the management of diabetes. Its high fiber content may help in the regulation of blood sugar levels, thereby assisting in the control of diabetes. Alpha-Linolenic acid(in flaxseed oil) in combination with sufficient zinc the diet has been linked to improved health in sufferers of type 2 Diabetes. [9]

Neuroprotective Effects / Spatial Memory:

Flaxseed has shown potential neuroprotective effects, which could be beneficial in preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Consumption of flaxseed has been linked with an improvement in spatial memory! This property could be of benefit for physical training and increased body awareness. [10]

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects:

Flaxseed exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These effects are beneficial in reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving overall health.

Menopausal and Hormonal Health:

Flaxseed may be beneficial in alleviating menopausal symptoms. The lignans act as phytoestrogens, which can help balance hormones and reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

Skin Health:

The essential fatty acids in flaxseed contribute to skin health. They can improve skin hydration and smoothness, and help in treating conditions like eczema.

Weight Management:

Flaxseed’s high fiber content contributes to a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management and obesity prevention.

Further Traditional Medicinal Uses Of Flax:

Other traditional uses of flax include treatment of shingles (using a poultice of ground seeds) and for infections of the respiratory tract and eyes, for colds, influenza, fever, rheumatism and gout. The antioxidants in flaxseed are the most likely contributors to these applications. [11]

How to Incorporate Flaxseed Into Your Diet:

Flaxseed as a food is best when milled, as the whole seeds tend to pass straight through the digestion without being broken down, and if it is consumed straight after milling – storage of milled seeds decreases the time for the oil to become rancid, which can cause it to become harmful to the liver. It is also important not to allow the flaxseed to heat up during grinding as this speeds up its degradation – using a coffee grinder rather than an electric one would be a good method and store surplus grounds in the fridge. Consuming flax oil is still beneficial but it does not contain any fiber.

Traditional medicine employs flaxseed both internally and externally as a compress or oil extract. Scientific studies are limited but there is a wealth of experiential information that supports many traditional uses and health benefits of consuming flaxseed. It is also used in chicken feed to produce “Omega-3 eggs” with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids!

The History of Human Use of Flax

Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) has been used by humans since very ancient times – records indicate its use goes back at least 30,000 years! It has been used primarily as a textile – the fibers are strong and durable and can be woven to produce linen. However flaxseed, also known as “linseed”, is a valuable food for humans and animals and contains beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and dietary fiber. The oil also makes an excellent preservative for timber, a base for paints and inks, and more recently in the production of linoleum flooring. This makes it one of the most useful plants for making natural products! [1]

Ancient Origins and Early Uses: Flax is one of the oldest fiber crops in the world. Its cultivation dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, making it a staple in human civilization for thousands of years. Initially, flax was primarily valued for its fibers, used in the production of linen. Linen from flax was highly regarded in ancient societies, including Egypt, where it was used for clothing and burial shrouds.

Flax in the Middle Ages: During the Middle Ages, flax continued to be an important crop. It was widely cultivated across Europe for its fibers, which were spun into linen for clothing and other textiles. The versatility of flax made it a crucial agricultural product.

Industrial Uses: With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, flax gained prominence as a raw material for the linen industry. The processing of flax fibers became more mechanized, increasing the efficiency of linen production. Flaxseed oil, extracted from the seeds of the flax plant, was used in paints, varnishes, and other industrial products.

Flaxseed in Nutrition and Medicine: In recent years, flaxseed has attracted considerable interest for its nutritional and medicinal properties. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and lignans, flaxseed has been linked to various health benefits. It is now recognized as a functional food with potential in preventing or treating diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. [12]

Modern Cultivation and Uses: Today, flax is cultivated commercially in various parts of the world, including Canada, China, the USA, India, and the European Union. The plant is used for producing oil, linen, and other industrial products. The increasing awareness of its health benefits has led to its incorporation into the human diet as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, and other food products.


Supplementary: Bioactive Compounds / Phytochemicals In Flaxseed – A Detailed Summary

Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) is a rich source of various bioactive compounds. It is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It also contains lignans, dietary fiber, proteins, and other soluble components like sugars, phenolic acids, and lignans.

Here is a detailed list of individual phytochemical molecules found in flaxseed, based on extensive research from multiple sources:

1. Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside (SDG): A prominent lignan in flaxseed, known for its health-promoting properties.

2. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): An essential omega-3 fatty acid, constituting a significant portion of flaxseed oil.

3. 4-O-β-D-Glucopyranosyl-p-Coumaric Acid (CoAG): A compound identified through HPLC and NMR analyses in flaxseed.

4. 4-O-β-D-Glucopyranosyl-Ferulic Acid: Another compound identified alongside CoAG in flaxseed.

5. 3-Hydroxy-3-Methyl Glutaric Acid: Linked to SDG in flaxseed, forming part of its oligomeric structure.

6. Triterpenoids: A class of phytochemicals present in flaxseed.

7. Steroids: Identified as one of the phytochemical components in flaxseed.

8. Glycosides: These compounds are part of the diverse phytochemical profile of flaxseed.

9. Saponins: Known for their health benefits, saponins are found in flaxseed.

10. Alkaloids: These naturally occurring compounds with diverse effects are present in flaxseed.

11. Flavonoids: A group of polyphenolic compounds, flavonoids in flaxseed contribute to its antioxidant properties. The specific flavonoids identified in flaxseed include:

Herbacetin: This natural flavonoid compound in flaxseed has been noted for its cardioprotective, hypolipidemic, and antidiabetic effects.
Herbacetin 3, 8-O-Diglucopyranoside: A glucoside form of herbacetin found in flaxseed.
Herbacetin 3, 7-O-Dimethyl Ether: Another derivative of herbacetin present in flaxseed.
Kaempferol 3-O-Glucoside: A flavonoid glucoside, kaempferol 3-O-glucoside, is also part of the flavonoid profile of flaxseed.
Flavone C-Glycosides and Flavone O-Glycosides: These are major flavonoids found in flaxseeds, contributing to its status as a functional food source.

12. Tannins: Known for their astringent properties, tannins are also a part of flaxseed’s phytochemical makeup.

13. Phenolic Acids: Flaxseed contains various phenolic acids, contributing to its health benefits. The specific phenolic acids identified in flaxseed include:

Quercetin: A flavonoid that is also classified as a phenolic compound, known for its antioxidant properties.
Caffeic Acid: A common phenolic acid found in many plants, including flaxseed.
Gallic Acid: Known for its antioxidant activity, gallic acid is present in flaxseed.
Vanillic Acid: A phenolic acid that contributes to the antioxidant capacity of flaxseed.
Benzoic Acid: Another phenolic compound found in flaxseed.
p-Coumaric Acid: This phenolic acid is known for its antioxidant properties and is found in flaxseed.
Syringic Acid: A naturally occurring phenolic acid present in flaxseed.
Sinapic Acid: Known for its antioxidant activity, sinapic acid is found in flaxseed.
Ferulic Acid: A common phenolic acid in plants, ferulic acid is known for its antioxidant and protective properties.

14. Phenylpropanoids: These organic compounds are part of flaxseed’s phytochemical profile.

15. Linystatin and Neolinustatin: Compounds found in flaxseed, contributing to its health-promoting properties.

16. Linamarin and Lotaustralin: These compounds are also identified as part of flaxseed’s phytochemical composition.

17. Amino Acids

The amino acid profile of flaxseed includes:

Cystine: 34% RDI in one (28g) serving.
Phenylalanine: An essential amino acid, used by the body to produce neurotransmitters. 31% RDI in one (28g) serving.
Tryptophan: An essential amino acid, a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. 30% RDI in one (28g) serving.
Threonine: Essential for protein balance in the body, and the formation of collagen and elastin. 21% RDI in one (28g) serving.
Histidine: Essential for growth, tissue repair, and the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells. 19% RDI in one (28g) serving.
Glutamic Acid: A non-essential amino acid, important for cognitive and digestive health.
Aspartic Acid: Plays a role in hormone production and nervous system function.
Arginine: A semi-essential amino acid, beneficial for heart health and blood flow.
Leucine: An essential amino acid, crucial for protein synthesis and muscle repair.
Valine: One of the branched-chain amino acids, important for muscle growth and energy.
Isoleucine: Another branched-chain essential amino acid, important for muscle metabolism and immune function.
Lysine: Essential for protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production, and calcium absorption.
Methionine: An essential amino acid that helps detoxify the body and aids in metabolism.
Tyrosine: Non-essential, important for enzyme and neurotransmitter production.
Alanine: Used in the body to convert glucose into energy.
Serine: Necessary for the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing neurotransmitter.
Glycine: Involved in the production of DNA, phospholipids, and collagen.
Proline: Important for protein synthesis, joint health, and skin elasticity.
Cysteine: Non-essential, helps synthesize glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.

(References [17-29])


[1] Wikipedia: Flax.

[2] “Out of the Earth”, The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine – Simon Y. Mills, Viking Press p.289.

[3] Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients. Hypertension. 2013

[4] Dietary lignans: physiology and potential for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. Nutr Rev. 2010

[5] Flax and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014

[6] What should we tell prostate cancer patients about (secondary) prevention? Curr Opin Urol. 2014

[7] Lignan content of the flaxseed influences its biological effects in healthy men and women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013

[8] Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009

[9] Inflammation markers predict zinc transporter gene expression in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Nutr Biochem. 2013

[10] Flaxseed – a miraculous defense against some critical maladies. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013

[11] Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria’s folk medicine–an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013

[12] “A comprehensive review of the health benefits of flaxseed oil in relation to its chemical composition and comparison with other omega-3-rich oils” – [European Journal of Medical Research]

[13] “Health Benefits of Flaxseed” – [ScienceDirect]

[14] “Potential Benefits of Flaxseed in Health and Disease – A Perspective” – [ResearchGate]

[15] “The Role of Flaxseed in Improving Human Health” – [Healthcare]

[16] “Phenolic Compounds in Flaxseed: a Review of Their Properties and Analytical Methods. An Overview of the Last Decade” – [ResearchGate]

Flaxseed Phytochemistry References:

[17] “Bioactive phytochemicals in flaxseed” – [ResearchGate]

[18] “A review of phytochemicals and uses of flaxseed” – [International Scientific Organization]

[19] “Flaxseed—a potential functional food source” – [PMC – NCBI]

[20] “Comparison of phytochemical profiles and health benefits in fiber and oil flaxseeds Linum usitatissimum L.” – [PubMed]

[21] “Flaxseed – Phytochemicals” – []

[22] “Herbacetin, a flaxseed flavonoid, ameliorates high percent dietary fat induced insulin …” – [ScienceDirect]

[23] “Flavonoid engineering of flax potentiate its biotechnological application” – [PMC – NCBI]

[24] “Flavonoid content of flaxseed. Influence of cultivar and environment” – [SpringerLink]

[25] “Flaxseed—a potential functional food source” – [PMC – NCBI]

[26] “Phenolic compounds in flaxseed: a review of their properties and analytical methods. An overview of the last decade” – [PubMed]

[27] “Phenolic Compound Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Flax Linum usitatissimum L. Harvested at Different Growth Stages” – [PMC – NCBI]

[28] “Biological activities of phenolic compounds extracted from flaxseed meal” – [Bulletin of the National Research Centre]

[29] MyFoodData Amino Acid Protein Calculator.

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