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Video Download: The Use Of Flax Seed Oil For Longevity And Wellness
Video Stream: The Use Of Flax Seed Oil For Longevity And Wellness
"Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health," said Mahatma Gandhi.
He was Correct. The health benefits of flax have been known for centuries. In the 8th Century, Charlemagne considered flax so vital for health that he passed laws mandating its use. As one of the first medicines, flax was used by Hippocrates himself.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are some of the finest sources available for the indispensable omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is considered an essential fatty acid because the body can't manufacture it on its own -- it has to be acquired from food.
Flaxseed oil can protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and many other severe afflictions.
The oil is an excellent source of omega-3. But flaxseed oil also has the added benefit of delivering other fatty acids as well, including some omega-6's and some heart-healthy omega-9's, resulting in an excellent fatty acid balance.
But there is something else to consider. The ALA in flax and flax oil is only one of three omega-3 fats, the other two being the long-chain fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). The latter two are only found mainly in animal foods like cold-water fish like salmon.
DHA and EPA deliver the most potent benefits of the omega-3 family, but the ALA in flax has several health benefits (like being anti-inflammatory).
Fortunately, the body can extract DHA and EPA from the ALA in flax; but it can't do that efficiently since it converts merely 5-10% of the ALA to those longer chain omegas found in fish and fish oil.
Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are the primary source of omega-3's if you're a vegetarian. If you want to obtain the health benefits of EPA and DHA without taking fish oil (or eating fish), be sure to swallow at least a tablespoon a day of flaxseed oil. If you do this, even at the low "conversion" rate you'll still be ingesting about a gram or so of the "fish oil" omegas.
More than Just Omega-3's
The benefits of flax are not restricted to omega-3 content. The oil, particularly the seeds, is an excellent source of a substance known as lignans which have a broad range of health benefits of their own. Lignans Protect against cancer -- particularly those that are hormone-sensitive like breast, uterine, and prostate cancer.
The effect of flaxseed lignans on breast cancer cells has been extensively researched. In one study, flaxseed was proven to have the potential to lower tumor growth in patients with breast cancer.
In this study, patients consumed a muffin containing 25 grams of flaxseed (or a "placebo" muffin of similar size without the added flaxseed). The researchers noted that a daily intake of 25 g flaxseed (about 3-4 tablespoons) could dramatically reduce cell proliferation and increase apoptosis (cell death of cancer cells).
The flaxseed also lowered HER2, a protein that amplifies the advancement of breast cancer.
Researchers also concluded that lignans suppressed the growth of human prostate cancer cells in a test tube.
Research at Duke University determined that men with prostate cancer who consumed three tablespoons of flaxseed per day and followed a low-fat diet had lower cancer cell growth.
Another benefit of flaxseed: lignans inhibit producing a dangerous testosterone metabolite (DHT, dihydrotestosterone) which is somewhat responsible for hair loss and benign prostate hyperplasia (the condition that causes men to make frequent bathroom trips, especially at night).
Flax encourages cardiovascular and colon health, strengthens immunity, nourishes your skin, and helps control blood sugar. Since the lignans in flax are phytoestrogens (anemic estrogenic compounds from plants), they may ease menopausal symptoms.
In one study, flaxseed was as efficient as hormone replacement therapy in easing mild menopausal symptoms in menopausal women.
The flaxseeds, but obviously not the oil, also deliver another gigantic benefit: soluble fiber. You receive the benefits of the oil and the fiber when you eat the seeds. They're perfect for baking, for sprinkling on salads, and for adding to cereals and smoothies.
What to Look For
Barlean's Organic Oils produces an awesome product called Forti-Flax, which you don't have to grind; you can use it right out of the jar.
Four tablespoons of Forti-Flax will provide 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of omega-3's, many lignans, and other health-promoting phytochemicals and deliver the same amount of flaxseed used in the breast cancer study mentioned earlier.
In addition to all of these benefits, flaxseeds are also anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant properties!.
Some flaxseed oils like Barlean's Lignan Flax Oil have been cold-processed to retain an uncommonly high lignan content.
Look for them in the refrigerated section of your health food store.
One huge caveat: Do not cook with flaxseed oil -- cooking destroys the intricate omega-3 fats, which cannot withstand heat. Only keep your flax oil refrigerated and take it as a supplement or add it to salads or already cooked vegetables.
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