Facts on Flaxseed
you eat flaxseed? Use flaxseed oil for cooking and salads? Take
flaxseed supplements? Will flaxseed in any form lower blood cholesterol
and prevent heart attacks? Is flax more powerful than other seeds
and oils? Flax is a particularly interesting plant that is under
study at the National Cancer Institute and other research centers.
The flax plant, an old friend of humanity, yields the fiber from
which linen is woven, as well as seeds and oil. The oil, also
called linseed oil, has many industrial uses-as an ingredient
in paints, varnishes, and linoleum, and as a finishing oil for
wood furniture. It also comes in an edible form, sold mostly at
health-food stores. Like olive, canola, and most other plant-derived
oils, it is highly unsaturated and is thus a healthful choice
to replace saturated fats from animal products. Flaxseed, from
which the oil is extracted, can be eaten whole or ground into
Some people now believe that flaxseed and its oil are special-that
their health effects are greater than those of other seeds and
oils. The background is complex.
flaxseed to your diet
It certainly can't hurt to add flaxseed and its oil to a healthy
diet-one based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy
products, and small amounts of fish and meat, and thus low in
saturated fat and cholesterol. But adding flaxseed to a poor diet
is not likely to help much.
Flaxseed flour or ground or whole flaxseeds can be found in some
breads, muffins, cereals, and breakfast bars, particularly in
health-food stores. Flaxseeds have a pleasant, nutty flavor and
are tasty sprinkled on salads, cooked vegetables, or cereals.
(However, unless the seeds are well chewed or ground, they simply
pass through the body.) You may want to combine flaxseed flour
with wheat flour for baking. The seeds and the oil spoil quickly:
the oil comes in dark bottles to extend its shelf life; the oil,
once opened, as well as ground flaxseed and flour, should be refrigerated.
And the oil is expensive.
Two cautions: in rare instances people may have allergic reactions
to flaxseed (anaphylactic shock, as from bee stings or nuts).
Flaxseed is high in fiber, so increase water intake along with
supplements too? Flaxseed supplements, which usually contain
ground seeds plus vitamin E, are gaining popularity. Vitamin E supplementation
is recommended (taking 200 to 800 IU daily), but skip the flaxseed
capsules. If you want to make flaxseed part of your diet, consume
the oil or the flour, not the supplements.
Claims, Benefits: Prevents
heart disease and cancer.
Line: Flaxseed oil is heart-healthy because it contains alpha-linolenic
acid. Flaxseed itself (ground or whole) also contains lignans,
which may have antioxidant actions and may help protect against
certain cancers, though this is far from certain.
Reference Source 98,99,101