Known as one of the world’s most powerful plant foods despite being so small, flax boasts plenty of health benefits. The powerhouse contains omega-three fatty acids, fibre, protein, copper, zinc, magnesium, and more. The ubiquitous seed can be found in all kinds of products – cereals, supplements and even makeup. You can also find flax seed oil in the supermarket. So what is it about this tiny seed that makes it so popular? We find out the benefits.
Improves heart health
Several studies have shows that flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. When untreated, high cholesterol levels can clog arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Flax also contains lignans that stop your white blood cells from sticking to blood vessels’ inner linings, preventing plaque deposits in your arteries.
Balances blood sugar
As flax contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), protein, and fibre, it helps to slightly improve blood sugar levels. Flax has insoluble and soluble fibre that slows down the absorption of glucose in the small intestine.
Keeping your blood sugar levels healthy helps to prevent unwanted complications including diabetes and heart problems.
High in fibre, flax helps to move food throughout the intestines. The mucilaginous fibre also improves nutrient absorption and prolongs your fullness. It softens stool to alleviate any discomfort caused by constipation.
Encourages weight loss
The aforementioned nutrients – omega-three, fibre, and lignans – are also responsible for stimulating fat loss. Flaxseed oil is believed to improve metabolism and prevent obesity while keeping you feeling full. As flax reduces inflammation, it also reduces the appearance of excess fat or water.
Creates shinier and stronger hair
In hair care products, omega-three content in flax nourishes your hair to make it strong and healthy. It increases the elasticity of hair, making it less breakage-prone. Flax oil can be used as a hair mask as the vitamin E also helps to nourish the roots and scalp to prevent baldness. Many of its other nutrients also contribute to faster hair growth.
Improves joint mobility
The omega-three acids help to fight inflammation while the ALA and lignans prevent the release of pro-inflammatory agents. Having less inflammation can lead to fewer aches and pains in your body.
Helps cellular health
According to studies supported by the American Institute for Cancer Research, there is a link between flax and risk of cancer. Earlier research showed that flaxseed is effective against breast cancer, but newer studies have shown that it also helps fight prostate, ovarian, and colon cancer.
The antioxidants in flax provide protection from cancer and heart disease, while the lignans have antigenic properties that prevent tumours from forming new blood cells. ALA and omega-three interfere with cancer’s growth and spread in the body. These results were only found in flaxseeds, not flax oil.
Supports the immune system
By reducing inflammation, constipation, and the risk of many illnesses, flax greatly improves your immune system. In addition to that, it also strengthens immune cells, helping fight autoimmune conditions like Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis.