Interestingly both the fibre as well as the oil in Flax Seed possess excellent nutritional characteristics. Upto 42 per cent of flax seed is oil; and 70 per cent of that is the healthy polyunsaturated fat. Flax is also very high in fibre – both of the soluble and insoluble kind. Just 28.4 gm (1 ounce) contains 32 per cent of the recommended daily amount. Eating high fibre foods, such as flaxseed, have numerous benefits. Being low energy density, these foods translate to fewer calories. At the same time high fiber foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease, help relieve constipation, and reduce exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in the intestine. Flaxseed reduces resistance to insulin, and may help protect against diabetes.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids and fibre content in flax seed assist us in weight management. Fats play a very important role in our diet. Acting as the ignition for burning calories and maintenance of the metabolic processes, fats also help give a “satisfied” feeling after a meal. Yet some weightwatchers mistakenly eliminate all fats from their diet. This can be self-defeating in the long run. Polyunsaturated fats should never be cut from our diets. Learning what is “good fat” and “bad fat” for our body’s health is essential, for long-term weight management.
Omega-3 fats can help reduce inflammation, that is a significant factor in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.
In contrast, Omega-6 fats, found in animal fats, margarine, and many vegetable oils—including corn, safflower, sunflower, palm, and peanut oils—can produce series 2 prostaglandins, which are pro-inflammatory molecules.
Both omega-6 and omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids: We need both types of fats to be healthy, and must derive them from our food.
Most nutrition experts believe that a robust ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats should be no higher than 4:1; and many recommend an optimal ratio of 2:1. However, most of our dietary practices take us dangerously away from these ranges – laying the basis for rising rate of inflammatory disorders.
To improve our omega 6 to omega-3 ratio – we must swing the balance in favor of flaxseed oil, sesame oil, walnuts, and cold-water fish like wild salmon. And at the same time, decrease our consumption of foods rich in omega-6 fats – such as corn oil, peanut oil, butter, and the fats found in meats.
Tip of the week
Flaxseeds can be purchased either whole or already ground. The two different forms offer distinct benefits. Although ground flaxseeds may be more convenient, whole flaxseeds provide a longer shelf life.
Like any oil, flaxseed oil may turn rancid if it is not refrigerated. Flaxseed oil requires special packaging, because it is easily destroyed by heat, light, and oxygen. The highest quality flaxseed products are made using fresh cold pressed seeds, bottled in dark containers.
When purchasing flaxseed oil supplements, it is better to rely on brands from reputable companies – who certify that their products are free of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. When possible, certified ‘Organic’ oils should be preferred.
Nature’s Wonder Food of the week: Flax Seeds
The best dosage of flaxseed oil depends on a number of factors, and should be determined in consultation with your physician. The general usage averages to 1 - 2 tablespoons daily(about 260 calories), or 2 capsules daily. Recommend dividing your daily flax fibre intake into three portions, taking a little bit with each meal. Flax can be helpfully added to all sorts of nutritious foods, like bran muffins and wheat bread.
People who are on blood thinning medications (anticoagulants), blood sugar lowering medications, or cholesterol lowering medications should take flaxseed oil or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids in consultation with their health care provider.