Flax Seed - Small Seeds With Healthy Benefits
Linseeds (Linum usitatissimum L.) are the seeds of the flax plant, also known as flax seed. Due to the variety of ingredients that have a positive benefit on health, linseeds are also known as functional food 1. There are brown and yellow golden linseed with similar nutrient profiles. Both forms contain no gluten. Flaxseeds are associated with a number of health-promoting benefits on heart and circulatory diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Flaxseeds Are Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
With 23 g flaxseed contain very high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3-fatty acid) 2. Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid, which is need for the conversion to other omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid). EPA and DHA are components of the retina and brain 3.
According to studies, 10 g of ground flaxseed daily are enough to increase the alpha-linolenic acid level in the body significantly 4. However, according to scientists 30 g of linseeds are needed to convert alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid. The reason is the very low conversion rate 5.
In addition, a lack of omega-3 is associated with a variety of cardiovascular diseases, so the demand for omega-3 should be covered necessarily. Linseed are suitable, as well as linseed oil, chia seeds (chia oil) and perialla seeds (perialla oil) 6.
Since predominantly omega-6 fatty acids are taken in with a vegan diet, flax seeds are also ideal to balance the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. A ratio in favor of omega-6 is associated with an increased susceptibility to diseases 7.
High Protein Content In Flaxseed
Flaxseed include 18.29 g of protein. Due to a very good amino acid profile with high levels of all essential amino acids are flaxseed a high-quality protein source. Especially the for athletes important (BCAA) isoleucine (0.89 grams per 100 grams), leucine (1.23 g) and valine (1.07 g) are contained in higher concentrations.
Minerals In Linseed
Potassium (0.81 g per 100 g) and phosphorus (0.64 g) are present in higher amounts. Potassium is required for nerve function and to maintain the water and electrolyte balance. Phosphorus is involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones.
Prevent Cancer And Protect The Heart With Lignans
With up to 0.7 to 1.5% of the dry weight of flax seeds are the best plant source of lignans (mainly secoisolariciresinol diglucoside) 8. Lignans are phytoestrogens, which belong to the group of phytochemicals. You can influence the female hormone balance, since they act similar to the human hormone estrogen 9. Studies show that some herbal lignans have estrogen activities, while others had moderately anti-estrogenic effects 10.
Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside is a potent mediator of angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and acts against the apoptosis ("cell suicide") 11. Scientists believe that benefits in cardioprotection in ischemic heart diseases can be achieved.
Maybe lignans are also suitable for the prevention of cancer 12. Several new study results already associate flaxseed with a reduction of breast cancer risk 13 14 15. In addition, flax seed may also offer protection against prostate cancer 16.
Scientists also suspect that flaxseed lignans have an antioxidative effect and thus could offer potential health benefits to health 17. If the flaxseeds are germinated, the share of lignans increases significantly 18. According to the study, a germination time of 8 to 10 days is optimal for the lignan formation and increases the potential health benefits. On the 10th day, the linseed showed the highest antioxidant and antiproliferative (tissue augmentation antagonistic) activity.
Linseed Are Rich In Fiber
Linseed contain a very high amount of fiber (27.3 g per 100 g) . Primarily, they stimulate the digestive and ensure a healthy intestinal flora, because fiber are the food source of intestinal bacteria. Through a high proportion of water-soluble fiber, the stool becomes softer, whereby blockages can be prevented.
Lose Weight With Linseed
Results of a smaller study suggest that flaxseed might suppress the appetite feeling, thus contributing to weight loss 19.
Patients with metabolic syndrome got a supplementation with 30 g of ground flaxseed a day. This reduced the body weight, waist circumference and BMI significantly compared to the control group without linseed 20. In addition, an important indicator of cardiovascular mortality (central obesity) could be reduced by 36% (control group 13%). Even a greater reduction of insulin resistance was observed in the flaxseed group. In insulin resistance, the hormone insulin acts decreased, whereby the risk of diabetes increases.
Flaxseed Reduce LDL Cholesterol
A high LDL cholesterol level is associated with a variety of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, it is very useful for health reasons to keep it low. According to a comprehensive literature search in 2009, which summarizes 28 studies on flaxseed and its effects on cholesterol levels, flaxseeds were able to reduce the total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations 21. However, the results depend on gender and the initial lipid profile of the subjects. Cholesterol-lowering benefits were achieved especially in women (especially postmenopausal women) and among those with a high initial cholesterol value 22. Significant changes in HDL - cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were not found.
Study results from 2015 show that the consumption of ground flaxseed together with cholesterol-lowering medicines suppresses the cholesterol level even more. In patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease, compared to those who consumed no flaxseed, an additional reduction of 8.5 % in LDL-cholesterol levels could be achieved after 12 months 23.
Lowering The Blood Pressure With Linseed
The benefit of flaxseed products on blood pressure with 1302 volunteers across 15 trials was concluded with a meta-analysis of 2015 26.
The results show significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure by various flaxseed products. Especially by flaxseed powder was responsible for a significant reduction in blood pressure. With lignan extracts no lowering effect were achieved.
According to studies, the blood pressure lowering effect (especially on the diastolic blood pressure) could be larger, if the flax seeds were consumed as a whole over a period of more than 12 weeks 27.
Diabetes And Linseed
Scientific studies have shown that 10 g flaxseed powder daily could reduce blood glucose levels by up to 19.7% within a month 28. According to scientists, flaxseed may be considered for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes due to its phytoestrogens.
Further Scientific Results
According to study results, Flaxseed act against hot flashes in women 29.
Recent studies demonstrate that flaxseed also reduce symptoms during menopause and improve quality of life 30.
There are also hints to suggest that 1 to 2 g flaxseed can improve dry eyes in patients with Sjogren's syndrome 31.
A study of 2016 shows that the management of a non-alcoholic fatty liver can be handled better with a lifestyle change. At the end of the study body weight, liver enzymes, insulin resistance and liver fibrosis and steatosis were significantly reduced 32. The results were compared to the group that undertook a lifestyle change only, they were much worse than the ones of those who received an additional 30 g of ground flaxseed daily for 12 weeks..
Side Effects Caused By Linseed?
Consuming 50 g flaxseed a day showed no negative effects on health 33 34. A flax seed allergy is rare 35. The consumption of 15 g of flaxseed per meal is considered harmless to health 36.
Linseed contain so-called anti-nutrients in small amounts. These include cyanogenic glycosides (299.82 ± 37.58 ug per g dry weight) 37. Linustatin (206.5 mg / 100g) and neolinustatin (174.2 mg) belong to the cyanogenic glycosides that are converted into glucose, acetone and the toxic hydrogen cyanide in the body 38. The proportion of hydrogen cyanide could be reduced by 98 % by heating the flax seeds at 200 degrees for 30 minutes, scientists say. However, heating should generally be avoided, as otherwise the useful ingredients such as the unsaturated fatty acids will be affected.
Flaxseed also contain, according to several studies, between 23 and 35.4 g per kg of phytic acid 39 40. Phytic acid binds to micronutrients (iron, calcium and zinc) and reduces their absorption rate, whereby the bioavailability decreases.
Linatin, an anti-vitamin, also occurs in small amounts in flaxseed 41. Linatin binds to vitamin B6, which can no longer be converted to its active form. However, studies show that flaxseeds are not related to a vitamin B6 deficiency in humans 42.
Store Flaxseed Cool And Dark
Concerning light, heat and oxygen, the small seeds are very susceptible. Therefore, they should be stored as cool and dark as possible.
Flaxseed can be used in whole, shredded and ground form. In comminuted form, the digestive tract has a better access to the ingredients, whereby the bioavailability of nutrients is higher 43. It should be noted that the seeds contain mucilage and swell in contact with water. Hence the consumption should always be done with enough water so that it does not come to blockages and bloating.
Often the small seeds are found in breads and buns. Also available are linseed breads. Popular are muffins, cookies, waffles and energy bars with flaxseed.
With its nutty taste, the seeds are perfect with cereal or together with fruits in the soy yogurt. The seeds may however also be mixed or added to salads.
The small seeds normally can be bought in any well-stocked supermarkets, drugstores and in organic markets and health food stores.