In the modern world one of the important challenges today faced by the current living is good health as in this era the people are suffering from several diseases due to unhealthy lifestyle.

Why to add Flaxseed in your diet Now-a-days everyone wish is to be healthy without making such efforts because of their busy life schedule. Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is a rich source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber is well known for its nutritional benefits.

The seeds contain protein, lignans, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as omega-3. Tt is considered as novel source of high-quality nutrition.

Flaxseed has miraculous defense against some critical health diseases. The nutrients in flaxseed help in lowering the risk of diabetes, lowering blood cholesterol, cancer, hypertension, and heart disease. Due to high fiber content in flax seeds it helps to overcome obesity and constipation issues.

For this reason, it is sometimes thought of as a functional food, a food that can be consumed to achieve health purposes. As functional foods, flaxseed has been good source of alpha-linolenic acid, lignans, high quality protein, soluble fiber and phenolic compounds.

Flaxseeds is added in diet in grinded form, flaxseed gel, flaxseed oil, or as whole. It is highly nutritious in all forms.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF FLAXSEEDS

When we look at the nutritional benefit of flaxseed there are many things to catch our attention because flaxseed nutritional makes it most nutrient rich food. Flax seed contain appreciable number of vitamins, folate, iron, zinc and potassium.

  • 110 calories
  • 6 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • 6 grams fiber
  • 6 milligram manganese
  • 4 milligram thiamine/vitamin B1
  • 80 milligrams magnesium
  • 132 milligrams phosphorus
  • 2 milligram copper
  • 5 milligrams selenium

FLAXSEED AS FUNCTIONAL FOOD

Flaxseed is one of key source of phytochemicals in functional food. In addition to being one of the richest sources of omega fatty acids (α‐linolenic acid oil and lignans), flaxseed is an essential source of high‐quality protein and soluble fibre and has considerable potential as a source of phenolic compounds. Diet containing flaxseeds, or its components is highly healthy for human.

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The omega-3 fatty acids have biologic effects that make them useful in preventing and managing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers. The high alpha linolenic acid concentration in flaxseed oil and omega-3 fatty have protective effect against several cancers.

  • LIGNANS

Lignans are a group of phytonutrients which are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. Precursor of lignans are found in plant-based foods, including grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Flax seed is richest source of lignan which on ingestion metabolized by intestinal bacteria.

Due to its highly anti-oxidant property lignans are used to prevent cancers (prostate, lungs, skin,), anti-aging and hormonal balance. lignans are also known for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

  • LINOLIC ACID

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been found in studies to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, cholesterol and hypertension, improve platelet function, reduce inflammation and protect arterial function.

Approximately 20 percent of alpha-linoleic acid can be converted into EPA, but only 0.5 percent is converted into DHA. It is considered as healthy fat and we should add it in our diet.

BENEFITS OF FLAXSEED

Benefits of flaxseed include helping improve digestion, skin, cardiovascular health, cholesterol and hormone balance while fighting cancer and even sugar cravings.

  • HIGH IN FIBER BUT LOW IN CARBS

One of appreciating property of flaxseed is that it contains gel forming fiber that is water soluble fiber. When we intake water soluble fiber it absorbs water and form gel, which trap the carbs, proteins and fats in stomach and pass through it undigested.

Later in intestine absorption take place which make you feel fuller. Flaxseed contain low amount of carbohydrate but high in soluble and insoluble fiber due to which it helps in colon detoxification.

  • HIGH IN OMEGA-3-FATTY ACID
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We all are aware of benefits of omega-3-fatty acids. Linoleic acid and lignans are most popular fatty acids found in flaxseed. Because of its anti-oxidant properties linoleic acid provide defense against diabetes, inflammation, damage to blood vessels, brain and neuron. Recommended dosage foe linoleic acid is as little as 20–50 milligrams per day for general preventative health.

  • HEALTHY HAIR AND SKIN

Flaxseeds are beneficial for hair making it shiny, stronger, healthy and provide resistant to damage. It provides essential fatty acids and vitamin B, which help to reduce dryness, eczema, pigmentation and improve symptoms of acne.

You can also use flaxseed oil for skin, nails, hair and eyes hence it contains healthy fats. Flaxseed can also be mixed with other oils that act as natural moisturizer and maintain your skin healthy and shiny.

  • LOWER BLOOD CHOLESTROL

Adding flaxseed in your diet may reduce blood cholesterol by detoxification and excretion of fat. The soluble fiber gel trap fat in digestive tract and unable its absorption.

This study showed that whole flaxseed intake is associated with a decrease in LDL “bad” cholesterol concentrations, but don’t affect HDL “good” cholesterol and triglycerides.

  • OBESITY AND HYPERTENSION

Due to high fat concentration flaxseed possibly may induce weight gain but no such evidences were found. Fiber present in it reduce appetite with feeling of fullness and help in weight loss.

In addition, it provide anti-hypertensive effects by lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Study proves that in old adult’s flaxseed lignans daily for 24 weeks, decreased systolic blood pressure from a mean of 155 to 140.

  • OSTEOPROSIS

Intake of lignans limit the risk of osteoporosis. According to new study flaxseed oil may menopausal. Phytoestrogens in the diet are of putative benefit through and post the menopause. The phytoestrogens derived from a wide variety of plant food having a structure similar to estradiol (estrogen) are associated with lowering risk of osteoporosis.

  • ANTI-CANCER
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Lignans in flaxseed provide best prevention against Brest cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.  Total lignan intake and breast cancer in premenopausal women are associated with each other.

Lignans are phytoestrogens that relieve the symptoms of menopause and can balance the effects of estrogen in the body by connecting to their receptors, due to similarity in chemical structure as to an estrogen molecule.

Several studies have been done to determine how the phytoestrogens in flaxseeds may help reduce risk of hormone related cancer such as prostate and skin cancer by preventing tumor growth and cell damage.

TOXICITY

‘Excess of everything is dangerous” therefore tasking flaxseed in recommended level is important. Few side effects were reported during pregnancy as they may have hormonal effects.

Taking plenty of water is highly recommended because it worsens constipation or in some cases cause intestinal blockage. Flaxseed and oil intake sometimes also cause diarrhea.

CONCLUSION

Flaxseed also called linseeds, contain the omega-3 fatty acid (ALA), protein, fiber, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals like magnesium and phosphorus, and antioxidants called lignans.

Benefits of flaxseed include helping improve digestion, giving you smooth skin, lowering cholesterol, reduce hypertension, heart diseases, balancing hormones, helping with weight loss, treating constipation and helping fight cancer.

Intake of flaxseed in tolerable amount is important otherwise it cause some mild sideffects, including diarrhea, hormonal imbalance during pregnancy and intestinal blockage.

Authors: Sehrish Kiran and Ansa Rebi

University of Agriculture Faisalabad

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