Health Benefits and History of Flaxseed

Photo of flaxseeds in a jar for Flackers.comFlaxseed is healthy and delicious.

It's also one of the world’s oldest, most important, and potently nutritious grains.

 

Quick Flax Facts

Flaxseed is high in alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is heart-healthy and rich in anti-inflammatories. Flaxseed also contains soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to maintain normal cholesterol levels and promote optimal bowel function. They’re a rich source of plant lignans and many vitamins and minerals, making this tiny seed a healthy, wonderful nutritional gift.

 

Nutritional benefits of flaxseed

Flaxseed oil, fibers and lignans have strong potential health benefits for a wide range of modern ailments. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, flaxseed has been shown to help reduce developing high cholesterol, heart disease, menopausal symptoms, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and many other health conditions. Flax protein has also been found to aid in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, and in supporting the immune system, according to this study published in the Journal of Food Science Technology.

Flaxseed contains several notable nutritional elements:

  • Fiber
  • Lignans
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Protein
  • B vitamins
  • Potassium
  • Various minerals
  • Calcium

This tiny seed is one of nature’s most powerful nutritional gifts. Current research tends to support the theory that flaxseed is also a beneficial treatment for a multitude of ailments, like relieving constipation, helping decrease symptoms of certain patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and helping to maintain normal healthy cholesterol levels (and thus may contribute to lowering the risk of heart disease).

In addition, flaxseed can play a pivotal role in maintaining normal blood glucose levels which can help with diabetes prevention and control. And finally, many people love flaxseed because the seeds are also helpful in increasing a sense of fullness or satiety, acting as a potential effective aid in weight management.

 

Alpha Linolenic Acid and Flaxseed

Flaxseeds are naturally high in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Over half the oil found in flaxseed consists of this essential fatty acid.

ALA is called an ‘essential fatty acid’ because our bodies need it for optimal health and vitality. Since our bodies can’t make this nutrient on their own, it needs to be absorbed by eating foods that are a rich source—like flaxseed. It’s estimated that most Americans aren’t getting enough of this vital element to be considered optimally healthy, yet this wasn't always the case.

Before the Industrial Revolution, when we were still hunters and gatherers living off the land, there was much more ALA in our diets. But thanks (or no thanks) to processed foods and industrialization, our diets have been filled with harmful saturated and trans fats that have dramatically affected society’s collective health.

This shift in our diets is probably one of the main reasons we’re seeing certain health problems increase in our communities today. Heart disease, strokes, behavioral changes, abnormal triglycerides, cholesterol levels in the blood, higher blood pressure, diabetes, tissue inflammation, skin disorders, mental deterioration, hypertension, low metabolic rate and perhaps even some kinds of immune dysfunction are all potential effects of our dependence on processed, unhealthy foods.

The good news: Scientists are discovering the myriad benefits of ALA. It’s a possible effective stroke reducing agent, and may protect the heart against arrhythmias, or irregular unstable electrical activity. It has also been shown to also inhibit Atherosclerosisharmful fatty deposits that can clog and harden arteries.

Doctors and scientists are beginning to understand how ALA works to reduce inflammation, both on its own and working as a team with flaxseed’s other nutrients. Reducing inflammation may be helpful in cancer prevention, as well as in decreasing the symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders. 

 

What are Lignans?

Flaxseed’s other primary beneficial ingredient is a group of compounds known as lignans. These lignans are a type of naturally occurring phytonutrient (phyto=plant nutrient) that can be beneficial for overall health. When we ingest these lignans, they get broken down by intestinal bacteria into enterodiol and enterolactone, two mammalian lignans that are thought to have weak estrogenic properties.

Thus we say that the plant lignans found in flaxseed are phytoestrogenic. In other words, they act like weak estrogen in the body. Lignans can behave as phytoestrogens, i.e. substances found in plants that have estrogen-like properties in the human body.

Although more research is needed, the general consensus suggests that phytoestrogens latch onto the receptor sites on cells meant for estrogen. This results in a partial stimulation of those receptors that is less intense than if true estrogen had attached, but stronger than if nothing had stimulated those receptors at all.

This leads to possibly two results.

First: High consumption of phytoestrogens tends to occupy the receptor sites on cells and keep the body’s real (and more potent) estrogen away in women who have considerably high natural estrogen levels. The end result is to reduce the overall action of potent estrogen. Since estrogen promotes a number of forms of cancer (such as certain breast cancer), it is thought that this may reduce the risk of certain hormone related cancers.

Second: Consumption of large amounts of phytoestrogens is thought to mimic the effect of the missing estrogen, possibly then, reducing symptoms such as hot flashes in women who have little estrogen (after menopause, for example).

More research needs to be done to confirm this promising data. However, research is just beginning to unfold all the benefits we can gain from plant lignan.

Image of Flackers flaxseed crackers

 

The Difference Between Flaxseed and Flax Oil

One of the main differences is that flaxseed oil contains practically no lignans, whereas the whole flaxseed contains lignans, fiber, and many other vital nutrients. To reap all the nutritional benefits flaxseed has to offer, it’s suggested that you eat the whole flaxseed.

 

History of Flaxseed

As one of the oldest crops known to man, flaxseed has been used for centuries as a creative problem-solver and powerful source of nutrition. The earliest discovery of flaxseed remnants date back to 30,000 BC, where it’s likely the fibers were used for clothing or other textile materials. It wasn’t until 6,000 BC that the first records of flaxseed consumed as food were discovered.

In practical applications, flaxseed has been rendered for many different purposes throughout history. Ancient Egyptians used flax oil for embalming and wrapping mummies. Hippocrates used it for healthy digestion and as a laxative. Others have used flax oil to coat farm tools to prevent rusting, the boiled seed as a poultice for boils and other skin infections, and seed mucilage as a hair gel.

In more recent history, flaxseed production has soared and demand has tripled as scientists work to uncover the seed’s ever-growing nutritional and pharmaceutical benefits.

 

Why Flackers

Flackers are an excellent source of flaxseed and their many beneficial nutrients. While most flaxseed needs to be ground before eating in order to release the omega-3 fatty acids, the flaxseed in Flackers are first soaked in water, activating the seeds, making them easier to digest and absorb nutrients.

After the seeds are soaked, we dehydrate the Flackers to make them crispy and delicious, while preserving the nutrients and Omega 3 fatty acids until you’re ready to eat them.

Unless you’re allergic to flaxseed, most people will benefit from their powerhouse nutrients. If you have not already started, it’s time that you incorporate flaxseed into your life and diet. They’ll help you feel better, look better, and live a healthier life.

If you are in poor health or have any health condition where you are told not to eat seeds, please consult your doctor before eating Flackers or incorporating flaxseed into your diet.

Containing no gluten, flaxseed should be perfectly safe to eat by those with wheat allergies. They are also non-GMO, kosher, low-carb, great for keto diets, and made with simple organic ingredients.