Flaxseeds and Heart Health
Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops, having been cultivated since the beginning of civilization. The Latin name of the flaxseed is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful”. Every time, when we google flaxseeds, we end up getting results for flaxseeds and linseeds. Well, both are different. Flaxseeds term is used to describe the flax when consumed as food by humans, whereas linseed is used to describe flax when it is used as an industry and feed purpose.
From edible oils to dietary supplements, everyone is including flaxseed oil in their final product. Thorough of research has gone in understanding the benefits of flaxseed which is a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know? India ranks 4th with 0.15 million tonnes of total flaxseed production (FAO 2012).
Flaxseed is considered to be one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, lignans (phytoestrogen). It also contains a measurable amount of fibre too. The seeds contain protein, lignans, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA or omega-3. Even though the beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids is focused on EPA and DHA, ALA also plays an efficient role in protecting from heart diseases.
Flaxseed oil is low in saturated (9%) and moderate in mono-saturated fatty (18%) acid but has a higher content of polyunsaturated fatty acid (73%). The bioavailability is dependent on the type of flax ingested and studies have shown that ALA has greater bioavailability in oil than milled seeds and whole seeds.
How Flaxseed oil is good for my Heart Health?
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the natural precursor of the cardioprotective long-chain n-3 fatty acids. Available research data surely indicates a possible beneficial effect of ALA on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and blood pressure.
Regular consumption of flaxseed oil has been shown to improve the lipid profiles, helps boost HDL cholesterol and reduces the bad LDL cholesterol.
Research has clearly shown that ALA being an omega-3 fatty acid may also protect our heart by inhibiting the production of anti-inflammatory markers.
Apart from the benefits of ALA, Flaxseeds are also abundant in lignans which is a type of polyphenols that plays a major role in protecting our heart. Flaxseeds also contain phytosterol which are molecules that are similar in structure to cholesterol, but they help prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. Eating foods that contain these nutrients may help reduce the levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in the body.
But, it is important to consume sufficient amount of flaxseeds to gain its benefit, it is difficult to achieve through just eating raw or roasted flaxseeds. Apart from whole flaxseeds, flaxseed oil is a concentrated source of ALA, which when consumed in an adequate amount will not have any detrimental effect on your weight or heart, but will be a boon for your health.
Apart from its heart health benefits, it is valued for its other health benefits:
- Aids in Fat Loss: Flaxseeds oil can support your weight loss efforts by improving your digestive system. It helps to lubricate your colon and also works as a natural laxative to soothe constipation too. This way, it helps to remove toxins from your body.
- Prevents Dry Eyes Syndrome: It is been long studied that improved consumption of flaxseed oil in a capsule form helps to improve the symptoms of dry eyes. A research study confirms a definite benefit of omega-3 fatty acids on conditions like blepharitis and meibomian gland disease, one of the major causes of dry eyes.
- Maintains Hormonal Balance: The lignans, present in flaxseeds help maintain normal hormonal balance especially for post-menopausal women.
There are readily available flaxseed oils in the market, out of which in the form of capsules makes it more convenient to carry and consume in the required quantity to provide the benefits. Also, one can be assured of purity and effectiveness.
Hence, let’s track our health by providing our body with the required nutrient – Omega-3 Fatty Acid!