Flaxseed may be on everyone's lips -- and in everyone's cereal -- but this new darling of the plant world has been around for more than 4,000 years, known even in the days of Hippocrates for its healthful benefits.
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What is Flax Seed Oil
Flax Seed Oil- Essential Source of Omega 3 EFA
Health Benefits of Flax Seed Oil
Components of Flax seed Oil
Flax seed is 1/3 oil, and the rest of it is made up of fiber, protein, and mucilage. Flax seed oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids - it contains alpha linolenic acid, omega 3 essential fatty acid, and omega 6 essential fattyacid, and flax seed oil contains these 3 EFA's in just the right proportions. Flax seeds are also a great source of lignans, vitamins, and minerals.
North Americans are usually lacking omega 3 EFA in their diet, and flax seed oil is an excellent supplement for this. The cells of the body need the omega 3 fatty acids from which they build their cell membranes, which protect them. The brain is largely composed of fats called phospholipids, which are made from essential fatty acids. Thus these oils are essential for the function and structure of the brain and improve cognition, memory, moods and concentration.
Research has shown that majority of diets are deficient in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and this can lead to some serious health problems:
- Coronary heart disease - Omega 3 helps reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, plaque formation, and cardian arrhythmia.
- Arthritis - Studies have found that oils rich in Omega 3 (like flax seed oil) patients can reduce their drug use.
- Cancer - Omega 3 has been found to kill certain cancer cells without harming normal cells.
- Skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis are shown partly to be related to Omega 3 deficiency.
- Omega 3 EFA helps improve your response to stress.
- Flax seeds contain 12% mucilage, which makes it a gentle natural laxative. Flaxseedsare perfect for individuals who have a sensitive stomach.
- Flax seed oil acts as a buffer for excess stomach acids
- Flax seed oil soothes ulcers and irritable bowel disorders
- Flax seed oil lubricates and absorbs toxin
- Prevents toxic build up in the bowels
- Flax seed oil also contains lignans that have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties.
- Flax seeds have the richest source of lignans, 100 times more than the next best source, wheat bran.
- Flax seed also contains lecithin which emulsifies fat and cholesterol.
- These little seeds improve digestion, help stabilize blood glucose, fight tumor formation and enhance cardiovascular health.
We already mentioned above that flax seed oil is an excellent source of fiber, protein, lignans, vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids. Let's take a look at some of these.
Fiber - Flax seeds contains soluble and insoluble fiber and also contains mucilage.The fiber in flax seed oil cleans the colon of toxic material, metabolic waste and dried mucus. Flax fiber is an excellent food for friendly bacteria in the intestine which keeps disease-causing organisms in check.
Protein - There's about 25g of protein for every 100g of flax seeds. The protein in flax seeds is easily digested and
contains a complete amino acid profile that your body needs.
Lignans - Lignans have anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, and Flax seed has 75 to 800 percent more lignans than other vegetables and grains. It is also believe lignans to have antioxidant properties.
Essential Fatty Acids - Flax seed oil is a rich source of 3 essential fatty acids: alpha linolenic acid, omega 3 essential fatty acid, and omega 6 essential fatty acid.
Are some of you wondering how to incorporate flax seed into your diet? It's a great source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains high quality protein, soluble fiber, linoleic acid,vitamins B-1, B-2, C, E and carotene and iron and zinc. The fiber is in a form called lignans which have anti-cancer properties especially related to breast and colon cancer. Flax also gives a boost to immunity and stabilizes blood sugar levels. For all of these reasons, it's rated by many as one of the top nutritional food sources and it's longer just for "health nuts"! It's best to buy the whole seeds and store in your freezer or refrigerator (as fat can deteriorate) Grind them in a blender or coffee grinder as you use them. Using 1-2 Tbsp. daily should provide the many benefits described above. You can sprinkle onto hot or cold cereal, sprinkle over salad, stir into yogurt or use in baking as in the recipe below.
These muffins are packed with nutritious ingredients and will definitely stick with you!!
Bran Flax Muffins
Makes 15 muffins
- 1 and 1/2 cups flour (try some whole wheat if you like!)
- 3/4 cup ground flax seed
- 3/4 cup oat bran
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 apples, peeled, shredded
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup chopped mixed nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with paper liners. In large bowl mix together dry ingredients. Add milk, eggs, vanilla and oil. Mix until just blended. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Per muffin=270 calories, 10 g fat, 29 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 7 g protein
- As the weather warms, salads become desirable as they are easy to put together and don't heat up the kitchen from using the oven. Flavors of the Mediterranean blend in this simple salad. The American Heart Association is encouraging 2 servings of fish each week. Serve this as is or on top of dark salad greens. A crusty whole grain bread would make a wonderful accompaniment.
Italian Bean and Tuna Salad
Makes 3 servings (1 cup each)
- 15 ounce can cannelloni or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 6 ounce can white tuna packed in water, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 3 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- In medium bowl, combine beans, tuna, onion, parsley and vinegar. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with pepper. Per serving=221 calories, 20g protein, 14 mg cholesterol, 5 g fat (3 g monounsaturated fat), 7 g fiber, 162 mg sodium
- Here's a very easy salad that will help to increase your vegetable intake! It's packed with important nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber and needs to be made a day ahead of serving time.
Easiest Vegetable Salad
Makes 6-10 servings
- 1 head broccoli, cut up
- 1 head cauliflower, cut up
- 2 carrots, sliced thin
- 1 onion, sliced thin
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 summer squash, sliced thin
- 16 ounces Italian dressing (try light or fat-free to reduce fat and calories!)
- Place all vegetables in large bowl. Pour dressing over top and stir to mix. Cover tightly and refrigerate over night or longer.
Enjoy the beautiful summer weekend ahead!