Tip of the Week

Roll with the punches! Life is gonna smack you right in the face when you don't expect it. If you're head's on straight, you're certainly gonna handle it just fine. Roll with it. Complain a little bit, and let it go.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Truth Tuesdays

"So, what's the deal with Flax?"

Was the question I asked myself as I began formulating a topic for today's Truth Tuesday. Flax has shown up in various interviews I've collected, most notably from Lindsay of a Saturday Success Story. Additionally, Flax is popping up in all kinds of health articles. So, of course, I bought a portion of Flax Seeds from my local Bigg's, and have been tossing some into my blended fruit drinks (blip, maybe more quip--I've been blending up fruit lately because my mouth is sore from constant dental work this summer. I'm tired of chewing.) Anyway, I've been throwing Flax in for three days now, and I had yet to research what it going on when I add it to my diet. So, here we go.
Interesting Curiosities related to Flax

Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels and soap. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.

Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent. This is called as Jawas/Javas or Alashi in Marathi. Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt. New Zealand flax is not related to flax, but was named after it as both plants are used to produce fibers.

Flax was one of the original "medicines" used by Hippocrates. Flax could be dubbed the "forgotten oil." It has fallen out of favor because oil manufacturers have found nutritious oils to be less profitable.

The very nutrients that give flax its nutritional benefits - essential fatty acids - also give it a short shelf life, making it more expensive to produce, transport, and store.

To learn how to grow Flax in your garden, go HERE. You will be redirected to a HowStuffWorks page.

Health-Related Curiosities about Flax

The best source of omega 3's, flax oil is a good source of omega 6, or linoleic acid (LA).

Sunflower, safflower, and sesame oil are greater sources of omega 6 fatty acids but they don't contain any omega-3 fatty acids. Flax oil is 45 to 60 percent the omega-3 fatty acid alphalinolenic acid (ALA).

In addition to nutritious fats, flax seeds contain other nutrients which make eating the whole seed superior to consuming just the extracted oil:

Flax seeds contain a high quality protein.

Flax seeds are rich in soluble fiber. The combination of the oil and the fiber makes flaxseeds an ideal laxative.

Flax seeds contain vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E, and carotene. These seeds also contain iron, zinc, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin E and carotene, two nutrients which aid the metabolism of the oil.

Flax seeds contain over a hundred times more of a phytonutrient, known as lignin, than any of its closest competitors, such as wheat bran, buckwheat, rye, millet, oats, and soybeans. Lignins have received a lot of attention lately because of possible anti-cancer properties, especially in relation to breast and colon cancer. Lignins seem to flush excess estrogen out of the body, thereby reducing the incidence of estrogen-linked cancers, such as breast cancer. Besides anti-tumor properties, lignins also seem to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Flax seeds, because they contain some protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and lignins, are more nutritious than their oil. Yet, for practical purposes, most consumers prefer simply using the oil for its omega-3 fatty acids and not having to bother with grinding the seeds. But nutritionally speaking, it's worth the trouble to grind fresh flax seeds (say, in a coffee grinder) and sprinkle them as a seasoning on salads or cereals, or mix them into muffins. When buying seeds, be sure they are whole, not split; splitting exposes the inner seed to light and heat and decreases the nutritional value. Or, buy pre-ground flax seeds, available as flaxseed meal. One ounce of flaxseed meal (approximately 4 tbsp.) will yield about 6 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber.
Seven Health Promoting Properties of Flax
Flax oil, flax seeds, and the omega-3 fatty acids they contain are good for your health. Here are some of the ways flax helps your body.
1. Flax promotes cardiovascular health. The ultra-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Fish oils and algae are also good sources of essential fatty acids.

2. Flax promotes colon health. It has anti-cancer properties and, as a natural lubricant and a rich fiber source, it lowers the risk of constipation.

3. Flax supplements can boost immunity. One study showed that school children supplemented with less than a teaspoon of flax oil a day had fewer and less severe respiratory infections than children not supplemented with flax oil.

4. Flax provides fats that are precursors for brain building. This is especially important at the stage of life when a child's brain grows the fastest, in utero and during infancy. A prudent mom should consider supplementing her diet with a daily tablespoon of flax oil during her pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

5. Flax promotes healthy skin. Flax oil is used as a dietary supplement in patients who seem to have dry skin or eczema, or whose skin is particularly sun-sensitive.

6. Flax may lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.

7. Flax fat can be slimming. Fats high in essential fatty acids, such as flax, increase the body's metabolic rate, helping to burn the excess, unhealthy fats in the body. Eating the right kind of fat gives you a better fighting chance of your body storing the right amount of fats. This is called thermogenesis , a process in which specialized fat cells throughout the body (called brown fat) click into high gear and burn more fat when activated by essential fatty acids, especially gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). A daily supplement of omega 3 fatty acids may be an important part of weight control programs
Thank you, Dr. Sears!


Sarah Von said...

I've found myself oddly obsessed with flax this summer, too! I like to toss it into salads or on tops of my banana toast for breakfast.

The Little Jewelry Box said...

What a great blog! I love this topic, LOL!! My dad swears by flax seed... :)

I would love to add one another as followers to help get our names out there to other bloggers:)! Let me know ?! :)

Allyson said...

Hilarious! Your DAD swears by flax? Oh, the many things that old-timers can teach us. Dear old Dad, thank you for yelling at me all those many years about flax. It turns out, it IS good for me." Love, Your Daughter

Seriously though, you both have said it. I'm chunking flax into my fruit and it's great. Plus, it's nearly invisible. I eat it without even realizing it exists.

Sandy said...

I have been adding flax seeds to salads as toppings for years, I even sprinkle them on oatmeal. I keep the seeds in the fridge to keep them from spoiling (as I do with other nuts). I also try to buying them at whole food stores where I can choose how much to buy.

Allyson said...


I just realized thatl, as a biologist, you are an ACTUAL WAY FOR ME TO BACK UP WHAT I SAY.

Thank you.