Flaxseed is a plant- based food that provides healthy fat, antioxidants and fibre. Largely produced in India, China, America and Ethiopia. The Latin name of flaxseed is Linum Usitatissimum, which means “very useful”. The seed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA Omega-3 fatty acid), lignans and fibre. Flaxseed is of different species, brown and yellow or golden but they largely have the same nutritional value.
Flaxseed is an important function food. Function food are foods or food ingredients that may provide physiological benefits and helps in preventing or curing diseases.
Health benefits of flaxseed
Almost all parts of flaxseed plant are utilized for various purposes. The seed contains oil which after refining is used for edible purpose. The stem yields fibre possessing high strength and durability.
– Antioxidant and anti-diabetic functions
The antioxidant function of flaxseed reduces cholesterol. Scoisolariciresinol Diglucose (SDG), a ligan from flaxseed has been found to possess antioxidant properties and is effective in preventing or delaying the development of type-1 and type-2 diabetes.
– Lowers the risk of heart diseases
Flaxseed is the richest plant source of the Omega-3 fatty acid and very low in saturated fatty acids (6 % per gram). It also has moderate monosaturated fatty acids and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid.
The fibre, phytosterols, and lignans in flaxseed help improve heart health.
– Reduces growth of tumour and cancer
Adding flaxseed to diet reduces risk of development of prostate cancer in men. Also breast cancer, uterine cancer and endometriosis in women.
– Boosts immune system
Flaxseed contains bioactive peptides, such as cyclolinopeptide A, which have strong immunosuppressive and antimalarial activities, inhibiting the human malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum in culture.
– Relieves symptoms in menopausal women
Studies have shown that consuming 2 tablespoon of crushed flaxseed twice daily for six weeks, halved the number of daily hot flashes in menopausal women. It also helps their bone health.
– Infant allergy and respiratory diseases
Consumption of flaxseed during pregnancy and early childhood is beneficial as the long-chain polysaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) present in flaxseed have immune modulatory effects, protecting against allergies and respiratory diseases.
– Healthy Body, Healthy Skin
You are what you eat. Flaxseeds are chockful of nutrition. The anti-inflammatory properties of flax seeds help in reducing the issues caused by severe illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, asthma, and even heart problems. Only if the body is healthy internally, the skin will feel healthy and supple.
– Glowing Skin
Flax seeds have a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids. These acids are good for the heart and reduce the chances of heart diseases from occurring. Flax seeds are the highest plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids. These acids help in preventing the skin from getting dry.
– Anti-Ageing Components
Flax seeds contain lignans and antioxidants that help in the prevention of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. Also, the fatty acids in flax seeds help in keeping the skin moisturised and smooth. The inherent quality of the flax seeds also helps in keeping the skin tight and lessen sagging with age.
– Reduces Allergies
Boils or rashes, whenever they occur, are always uncomfortable. Flaxseeds help in keeping the cell membranes in the body healthy. The membranes aid the essential nutrients to circulate in the body and prevent the passage of harmful elements that cause rashes. Consuming flaxseeds regularly benefits the skin.
Flaxseeds can balance out the estrogen in the body, which helps in reducing the breakout of acne. Another cause of acne is the secretion of excess oils on the face. Sebum production is regulated by flaxseeds which prevent acne.
– Rejuvenating the Skin
Other than consuming flaxseeds, you can gain flaxseed benefits for your skin by incorporating it into face packs. A granular powder of flaxseed mixed into any liquid base can work as an excellent exfoliator and remove dead skin and blackheads from the face. Flax seeds help in tightening the pores in the face and prevents dirt from settling in.
– Repairs Hair Damage
Vitamin E is essential for hair health. Many hair products in the market are enhanced with added vitamin E for minimising hair damage. Flaxseed benefits for skin and hair include preventing damage caused by free radicals in the air and strengthening the roots which reduce hair fall.
– Prevents Dandruff
Flaxseed benefits for skin and hair do not stop at only preventing hair fall and damage. Many times, due to dry skin, the scalp falls victim to eczema and dandruff. The oils in flaxseeds help in keeping the moisture in the scalp and roots intact, preventing the formation of dandruff and hair dryness.
– Managing Weight
Flaxseeds have a high proportion of healthy fats and proteins that fill you up without giving cause for snacking between meals. Obesity has been linked to many skin problems caused by the existence of excess fatty tissues in the body.
Flaxseeds are beneficial to both men, women and children. Flaxseed is emerging as one the nutritive and functional ingredients in food products. Various clinical trials revealed that flaxseed constituents provide disease preventive and therapeutic benefits. These health benefits emphasise the need to add it to your diet.
Today, flaxseed is available in the form of seeds, oils, powder, tablets capsules and flour. People can also add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereals, smoothies, soups and stews, yoghurts.
Written by: Chinonye Machie