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The Fantastic Flaxseed

by Nicole Nutter

flaxseed growing in natureThe Latin term Linumusitatissimum means most useful and is the scientific name for flaxseed. This seed certainly lives up to its name by offering nutritional value in countless ways. Flaxseed contains several healthy plant chemicals including fiber, protein, lignans and essential fatty acids (ALA). It comes in a variety of forms, but there are some things you should know about each. For example, flaxseed oil should be refrigerated once opened. If you are using whole flaxseeds, they should be used within 24 hours of grinding or else they will lose some of their effectiveness. Flaxseeds are available already ground and come in a special packaging in order to keep the components of the flaxseed active, because it is easier for the body to absorb the nutrients in ground seeds than in whole.

One of the most popular supplement forms is flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil. It is a good source of the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Your body needs these essential fatty acids to help regulate the way your body metabolizes fat, inflammatory response, and hormones. In addition to these, the cardiovascular, immune, and central nervous systems rely heavily on these essential fatty acids to function efficiently. A healthy and balanced diet includes a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, since they work together to improve and maintain health.

flaxseed in heart shapeAccording to the World's Healthiest Foods Organization's website, flaxseed meal and flour provides a very good source of fiber that can lower cholesterol levels in people with atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, reduce the exposure of colon cells to cancer-causing chemicals, help relieve constipation and stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. It is also said that flaxseed can with the blood vessel spasm that leads to migraines and also restores normal sleep patterns, in addition to promoting relaxation. This effect is probably because it is also very high in magnesium.

The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study affirming that a diet high in fiber may help with heart disease. Participants in the study, about 10,000 adult Americans, were followed for 19 years. Those who consumed the highest amount of fiber (around 21 grams daily) had 12 percent less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11 percent less cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those who ate only 5 grams each day.

Several studies have been conducted and are in the process of being conducted to discover all of the health benefits of flaxseed. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the estrogen in postmenopausal women who eat about one ounce of flaxseed every day is influenced in such a way that offers protection against breast cancer but will not interfere with estrogen's role in normal bone maintenance. Flaxseed is rich with lignans, which assist in normal ovulation, and extend the second half of the menstrual cycle which is progesterone-dominant. The chances of conception are improved and hormonal balance is restored with flaxseed, which can even reduce the frequency of hot flashes that postmenopausal can experience.

Moreover, flaxseed studies say that including these tiny seeds in your diet may help with dry eyes, inhibit prostate cancer growth, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and protect against conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. With all of these possible health benefits, you would be a fool not to take advantage of everything the flaxseed has to offer. You can sprinkle ground flaxseed into baked goods, atop vegetables, into your hot or cold cereal or mix them in to your breakfast shake. A tablespoon of flaxseed oil can also be mixed into smoothies to increase their nutritional value. Let us know how you prepare and enjoy your flaxseed!

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