Flaxseed oil, to the better health!

Flaxseed oil is a delicate, nut-flavored oil that boasts a high nutritional profile. The flax plant has provided sustenance for humans at least as far back as recorded history, and for thousands of years it has been prized for food as well as for fiber used for clothing. Derived from the tiny, nutrient-dense flaxseed, flaxseed oil is a good source of protein, potassium, boron, and linoleic acid (an "essential fatty acid" needed for survival), as well as beta-carotene.

Flaxseed oil also contains a beneficial fat, alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is under investigation for its ability to reduce risk of a host of conditions, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, certain cancers, immune and inflammatory disorders, and skin ailments. Alpha-linolenic, a polyunsaturated fat abundant in flaxseed oil, is vital for proper functioning of nerve cells, cell membranes, cell tissues, and prostaglandins (hormonelike substances that indirectly exert anti-inflammatory actions).

Flaxseed oil bears the distinction of providing an optimal balance of both the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, flaxseeds (and flaxseed oil) are the richest plant source of omega-3 fat, which is hard to get in a diet lacking in fish. While flaxseeds contain lignans, phytoestrogens that are under review for a wide range of health benefits, it should be noted that most of these lignans, as well as dietary fiber, are depleted and lost during processing of flaxseeds into oil. It should be noted that some brands have lignans added back into the flaxseed oil. (from http://www.wholehealthmd.com )

INDICATIONS AND USAGE from PDR (physician desk reference)
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil may be indicated in hyperlipidemia, to decrease platelet aggregation, to lower blood pressure, to help prevent heart attacks and stroke, and to ameliorate some of the symptoms of arthritis. There is a suggestion that it may be helpful in some cancers.

CONTRAINDICATIONS from PDR (physician desk reference)
Women who are pregnant should not use supplemental flaxseed oil or flaxseed because of the theoretical possibility that these lignan-containing substances might induce menstruation.

PRECAUTIONS from PDR (physician desk reference)
Infants, young children, and nursing mothers should avoid supplemental flaxseed oil. Because of possible antithrombotic activity, those with hemophilia and those taking warfarin should be cautious about the use of supplemental flaxseed oil or flaxseed. Flaxseed oil intake should be halted in those having surgical procedures.

Recommended Daily Intake: 750 - 1,000 milligrams per day

Sources Amount Calories
(1,000 milligrams)
Flaxseed oil 1/2 teaspoon 20
Ground Flaxseed 1-1/2 teaspoon 40
Walnut halves 5 70
Canola Oil 2 teaspoons 80
Soybean Oil 1 tablespoon 120
Wheat germ oil 1 tablespoon 120
Salmon, herring, albacore,sardine, rainbow trout, eel 2 ounces 100
Other fish contain some omega 3, but not as much 9 - 12 ounces 300(or more)
Broccoli, cooked 5 cups 220
Spinach, cooked 10 cups 280
Soy nuts 3/4 cup 285
Rice Bran oil 4 tablespoons 480

How to add flax to your diet

Whole seeds
Flax seeds on top of home baking or mix them into a dough. However, to obtain benefit from flax, you should first grind flax seeds because whole seeds will pass through your system undigested.

Milled flax
Grinding whole seeds breaks their tough outer skin, creating a light-colored powder. Sold in a vacuum package, or prepared by yourself in a coffee grinder, milled flax can be sprinkled on cereal, or added to dough, batters, casseroles and other cooked foods.

Flax oil
Flax oil is sold in bottles. The oil is extracted from whole flax seeds, using presses especially developed for plant oils. Flax oil can be poured on fresh salads. Flax oil provides ALA, but no fiber or lignans.

Gel capsule
Flax oil is sealed in gel capsules and sold as a dietary supplement.

Omega-3 enriched eggs
Omega-3 enriched eggs contain extra omega-3 fatty acids from flax fed to hens. Omega-3 eggs can be used wherever you would use regular eggs - there's no taste difference, only nutrition enrichment. If eaten on a regular basis, omega-3-enriched eggs make a substantial contribution to your need for omega-3 fatty acids. The caloric value and protein content of omega-3 enriched eggs are similar to that of regular eggs.

Omega-3 enriched foods
Omega-3 enriched foods, such as yogourt and milk, may contain flax oil, while baked goods, such as breads, can include milled or whole flax.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I buy flax seed?
You can buy whole flax seed and packaged ground flax seed at many bulk food, and health food stores. Conveniently, many supermarkets are also selling flax seed in their bulk food sections. Check your local stores, as more outlets are carrying flax seed now than ever before. This trend will continue as flax seed becomes a more popular food item.

Which is better for me, whole or ground flax seed? Ground flax seed provides more nutritional benefits than does whole seed. That's because flax seeds are very hard, making them difficult to crack, even with careful chewing. Grinding flax seeds breaks them up, making them easier to digest when eaten. Then the body can profit from all that flax goodness. If whole flax seeds remain unbroken, they may pass undigested through the body, reducing the nutritional advantage of eating flax seed in the first place.

How can I grind the seeds? Flax seeds are easy to grind, and you likely have the right tool in your kitchen. Grind flax seeds at home using a coffee grinder, food processor or blender. Like coffee beans, you can grind flax seeds coarsely or finely, but generally, recipes call for finely ground flax seed.

What is the difference between brown flax seed and golden or yellow flax seed? Is one better than the other? No, one flax seed is not better for you than another. Brown flax seeds provide the same nutritional benefits as golden (or yellow) ones. Both brown and golden flax seeds have plenty of lignans and dietary fiber, and both contain more than 50 per cent alpha-linolenic acid. This is an omega-3 fat which offers you health and heart fitness.
While some people prefer yellow-colored seed in their cooking, brown flax seeds add the same nutrition to your diet as do golden ones. This means you can choose your flax seed freely. Brown flax seed may be more commonly found than golden, as more brown than golden flax seed is grown commercially.

How should I store flax seed and for how long will it keep? Whole flax seed
Whole flax seed comes with Nature's own finest packaging - its natural hard hull keeps it fresh. You can store clean, dry, good quality whole flax seed at room temperature for up to a year. Some people keep a jar of flax seed handy on their kitchen counter.
Ground flax seed
All vegetable oil products require some care in handling and storing. Once you grind flax seed, there is greater risk of it developing an off-flavour and taste. That's why it's best to grind whole flax seed as you need it. This ensures its freshness. After grinding, you should refrigerate it in an airtight, opaque container. Ground flax seed handled this way will keep for up to 90 days.

Does flax contain gluten?
Flax contains no gluten.

How many calories are in flax seed? 100 grams of flax seed has approximately 450 calories

Additional Resources

Flax Articles - www.Barleans.com - we personally take Barlean's Organic Lignan Flaxseed Oil Daily one to two tablespoon

Lignans are a highly studied and researched class of plant chemical (phytochemical) and a form of insoluble fiber that have recently come to the forefront of nutritional research. Compelling studies funded by the National Cancer Institute have shown that lignans may possess impressive preventative properties. Research has established that the amount of lignans present in human blood samples is directly related to the amount of lignan rich producing foods consumed. When flaxseed was compared to other lignan rich producing foods, it was found to have 200-800 times more lignan precursors. By using the Barlean's Bio-Electron process the flax particulates (high in lignan precursors) is retained in the oil, offering nature's richest source of these valuable plant chemicals.

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