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flaxseed » Homemade Remedies for Your Health


USE FOR

Back pain
Gout
Healthy skin
Heart health
Hemorrhoids High cholesterol
Menopausal symptoms
Acne

Anxiety
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Conjunctivitis
Constipation
Coughs
Depression

Eczema

Eye Irritation
Lower stroke risk
Psoriasis
Stable blood sugar
Ulcers
Weight loss

 

Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimun) has been called a super- food—and with good reason. It’s amazing how powerfully healthy these tiny seeds are. Harvested from the same plant that has supplied the fiber for linen since the dawn of time, flaxseed should be thought of as your strong-armed ally against high cholesterol, heart disease, symptoms of menopause, and even some forms of cancer. Make sure it has a permanent place in your pantry.

 

 

 

rooted in history
Flax is one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants; people have grown it for its fiber, oil, and seeds for something like 10,000 years. The first record of its food use dates back to 3000 BC in Babylonia. Its medicinal use was first recorded, so far as we know, by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who used flax to relieve intestinal discomfort. Roman healers relied on flax to ease coughs, urinary tract problems, and constipation.
 

North American healers, back in the day, used crushed flaxseed as a poultice for abscesses, ulcers, and inflammations. Linseed oil, a flaxseed product, was a popular cough syrup ingredient. And flaxseed tea, with a little lemon and honey, was often recommended for conghs and colds.

 

what’s in it?
Flaxseed is a bountiful source of phytoestrogens called lignans, which act like a weak form of estrogen in the body. Lignans bloc estrogen receptors on cells—which means they prevent the uptake of stronger, pro-cancer estrogen—and may contribute to reduced rates of certain hormone-related cancers, including ovarian, breast, and prostate cancer. Other anticancer benefits have been attributed to lignans’ ability to lower tumor necrosis factor, a protein compound involved in the inflammatory process.

 

And that’s not all. Flax is an abundant source of alphalinolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid the body uses to make omega-3 fatty acids. ALA thins the blood and makes it less sticky, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The little seeds also lower cholesterol, thanks to their big stores of soluble fiber: A tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over cereal or yogurt provides an easy 2.3 grams of fiber. F anti-inflammatory power may also help keep various conditions, from acne to asthma, at bay.

 

what science says
According to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, postmenopausal women and people who have high cholesterol could lower their cholesterol significantly simply by adding flaxseed to their diets. The researchers reviewed 28 studies on flax published between 1990 and 2008 before arriving at their conclusion.

 

on the horizon
When researchers study flaxseed and its potential for reducing the incidence of cancer, intriguing—and hopeful evidence often emerges. For example, studies suggest that flaxseed and other foods rich in lignans (which include barley, oatmeal, and wheat bran) are potent cancer fighters. A flax- supplemented diet prevented breast cancer and slowed the growth and spread of malignant tumors in animal studies.
 

What’s more, animal research shows that flaxseed also appears to increase the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a drug that reduces the risk of breast cancer by interfering with estrogen. Some studies suggest that flaxseed may prevent other forms of cancer that are fed by hormones, including prostate cancer.
 

While the research is exciting, little of it involves humans. A few studies have found that women who consume the most lignans have a lower-than-expected risk of breast cancer, though the benefit may be limited to women who have not reached menopause. Until more studies are completed, it’s too soon to call flaxseed a cancer-fighter. However, its other benefits make it a smart food to eat regularly, so if flax does turn out to fight cancer, you can consider it a bonus.

 

flaxseed oil
Just as olives are different than olive oil, so is flaxseed different than flaxseed oil. In particular, flaxseed oil doesn’t contain the lignans that appear so useful on the cancer front. However, flaxseed oil is 50 to 60 percent alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Unlike other well-known omega-3 oils—like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fish—ALA comes strictly from plants.
 

Buy flaxseed oil at health-food stores. The best products are made with fresh-pressed seeds, bottled in opaque containers, and processed at low temperatures. The oil is highly perishable and needs to be refrigerated. Don’t cook with fiaxseed oil; use it raw as a salad dressing or veggie drizzle or an ingredient in smoothies and other recipes that don’t require heating.

 

BUYER'S tip

To add flaxseed to your diet, buy it in bulk at a natural foods store, and keep it in an airtight container in the pantry. Pick up a coffee grinder and grind the amount you need every day, because ground flaxseed is highly perishable. If you grind too much, refrigerate the excess in a plastic bag and use promptly.

 

good to know

If you’re a woman past menopause or have diabetes, read on. News about flaxseed oil that emerged in 2009 offers hope about avoiding osteoporosis. Researchers at the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt, studied the effect of diabetes on bone health to see whether flaxseed oil could delay the onset of the bone-weakening disease. One key finding: that diabetes puts post-menopausal women at increased risk for osteoporosis. The researchers concluded that flaxseed oil improves bone health and could prevent osteoporosis. The study was conducted on lab rats, so human studies need to confirm this effect in women. Bottom line: Since flaxseed oil’s other health benefits are well-proven, it certainly makes sense to add a spoonful or two to veggies and salads in hopes of preventing osteoporosis, especially if you’re at risk for the disease.

 
 

 

 

 

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