Flax Seed Oil also known as Lin-seed. Latin name is Linum usitatissimum. Flax was originally used in the 1900s for fabrication of cloths and paper while the flax seed was consumed by humans as part of their diet. Flax seeds have nutritional characteristics and are rich source of omega (ω) – 3 fatty acid: ∝ – Linolenic acid (ALA) short chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), soluble and insoluble fibers, phyto estrogenic lignans, proteins and an array of antioxidants.
Countries that grow flaxseed include: Canada, China, United States, India and Ethiopia.
Characteristics of Flax Seed.
Flax seeds are available in two basic varieties:
- Brown and
- Yellow or golden
Both have similar nutritional characteristics and equal numbers of short chain Omega – 3 fatty acids. According to its physio-chemical composition, flax seed is a multicomponent system with bio-active plant substances such as oil, protein, dietary fiber, soluble polysaccharides, linons, phenolic compounds, vitamins (A, C, F and E) and mineral (Phosphorus, magnesium, potasium, sodium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc).
Flax seed is the richest plant source of the omega – 3 fatty acid that is ∝ – Linolenic acid (ALA).
Flax seed oil is low in saturated fatty acids (9%), moderate in mono-saturated fatty acids (18%) and rich in poly unsaturated fatty acid (73%). Of all lipids in flax seed oil, alph-linolenic acid is the major fatty acid ranging from 39.00 to 60.42% followed by oleic, linoleic, palmitic and stearic acids which provides an excellent. Omega-6: Omega-3 fatty acid ratio of approximately 0.3:1.
Flax seed also contains:
- Proteins (limiting amino-acid-lysine, peptides, glutonic acid, arginine and aromatic amino acid).
- Dietary fibers.
- Lignans (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), matairesinol, lariciresinol and pinoresinol).
- Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus: Dietary fibers, lignans and omega-3 fatty acids present in flax seed have a protective effect against diabetes risk. Utilization of flax seed for glycemic control may also be associated to the decrease in risk of obesity and dyslipidemia, since these are risk factors for the development of diabetes and resistance to insulin.
- Tumor and Career Reducing Effects: Research in laboratories has shown that flax seed inhibits the formation of colon, breast, skin and lung tumors and also reduces blood vessel cell formation, all suggesting a protective effect against breast, colon and ovarian cancer. Flax seed and its SDG lignan component have been shown to attennuate tumorigenesis, as well as an increase in apoptosis via modulation of the estrogen receptor (ER) – and growth factor – signaling pathways,
- Prevention of Kidney Diseases: Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids, it has been suggested that these nutrients may protect the kidneys from damage in adults.
- Reduction of Dyslipidemia and Cardiovascular Diseases: The effects of flax seed on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in studies performed on humans showed positive response. Flax seed also possesses hypocholesterolemic activity.
- Prevention and Treatment of Obesity: Flax seed fibers form highly viscous solutions upon hydration, which is similar to those neuropeptide y (NPY) which is a potent appetite stimulator.
- Natural Treatment of Bowel Syndrome: It is well known that a sufficient amount of dietary fiber is a cornerstone in the prevention and treatment of constipation. It can also be used as a natural way to manage irritable bowel syndrome.