Flaxseed A-Z: What the Superfood Offers

Lately, flax seeds have gained popularity as a health food. This is due to the high content of heart healthy omega-3 fats, fiber and other unique plant compounds. Flax seeds have been linked to many health benefits, such as improved digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Flax also known as common flax or linseed is a flavouring plant, in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in the regions of the world with temperate climates. Textiles from flax are known as linen. Its oil is known as linseed oil. FLax seeds originated in the Middle East thousands of years ago.

Flax seeds may be useful as a part of a weight loss diet. Flax seeds contain soluble fibre, which becomes sticky when mixed with water. This fibre has been shown to be effective at suppressing hunger and cravings, potentially promoting weight loss.

A review of controlled studies concluded that flax seeds promoted weight loss in overweight and obese people. These people who added the seeds to their diet lost an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kg), compared to the control group. It also showed that weight loss tended to be greater in studies lasting for more than 12 weeks and among those who consumed more than 30 grams of flax seeds per day.

Flax seeds have also been associated with major benefits for heart health, mainly attributed to their content of omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and their fiber high blood cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. This is especially true for oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol. Studies note that daily consumption of flax seeds or flaxseed oil may lower cholesterol by 6-11 %, and also indicate a 9-18% reduction in the number of LDL(bad) cholesterol particles. These seeds may be very useful when consumed along with cholesterol-lowering medication.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential. They may have benefits for various aspects of heart health, including blood platelet function, inflammation, and blood pressure. Flax seeds are very high in the omega-3 fatty acid , alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Several studies have linked ALA with lower risk of stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease. Plant-based ALA fatty acids seem to benefit heart health similarly to fish oils, which are rich in EPA and DHA.

Eating flax seeds is an effective way to lower blood pressure. In a 6 month study in people with elevated blood pressure, those consuming 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of flax seeds daily, experienced a 10-7 mmHg reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, your risk of stroke is estimated to be reduced by 11-13% and your risk of heart disease by 34%.

Diarrhea and constipation cause major distress and may even threaten your health. Several studies have found that flax seeds prevent both diarrhea and constipation. The insoluble fiber content in flax seeds adds bulk to your digestive waste, acting as a laxative and relieving constipation. Soluble fiber is also thought to bind to water in your digestive tract. This causes it to swell and increase the bulk of your stool, preventing diarrhea.

According to WHO, 1in 10 adults had diabetes in 2012. Studies in people with T2D show that supplementing 10-20 grams of flaxseed powder per day for 1-2 months may reduce fasting blood sugar by up to 19.7%. However, not all studies found flax seeds to be effective in regulating blood glucose and insulin levels.

Test-tube and animal studies show that flax seeds may suppress the formation of several types of cancers; such as those of the colon, breast, skin and lungs. Increased blood levels of sex hormones in overweight women, potentially decreasing breast cancer risk. These seeds have also been shown to protect against prostate cancer.

Even though there are many varied benefits of consuming flax seeds. There are a few risks associated with consuming flax seeds. May cause mild digestive issues. They contain plant compounds that may adversely affect some people and are not considered safe for high-dose consumption in early pregnancy. Flax seeds have become popular due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and other plant compounds. They may aid weight loss and improve blood sugar control, as well as heart and digestive health. Any kind of a change in your diet must be done after a consultation with your doctor and dietician.

What you eat is one of the key areas to successful diabetes management. Do you want to know more about such wonder foods? Join Art of Living with Diabetes today. Watch the video

Published by Dr.Pratim Sengupta

Dr. Pratim Sengupta thinks of himself as conscious, living, soulful being with an inner urge to break the inertia of life. He feels that life is nothing but a material expression of the Supreme Almighty Consciousness. His conscious existence empowered him to see, to hear, to talk, to interact, to feel, to dream, to ask questions, and to seek solutions to every problem. In the flow of life, as he grew up, he understood that knowledge of life is the only way to understand the scientific basis of conscious existence. Hence Dr. Sengupta felt the urge to study the science of life – i.e. Medicine. After he completed his higher secondary education from the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belurmath, he joined the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) course at RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. The professional packaging of knowledge in terms of a time-bound, goal-oriented syllabus frustrated him a bit, but nevertheless ignited the urge within him to study further. He thus went on to his post-graduation (MD) in Medicine from IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. During his MD training, he got a glimpse of the vastness of knowledge, and the quest to learn precisely the facts of life narrowed down his area of interest to the functioning of the kidneys and the specialisation of Nephrology – a discipline that is complex, yet relatively new and still evolving in terms of complete understanding of renal physiology and pathology. So, Dr. Sengupta decided to study and train for the DM (Doctorate of Medicine) degree in Nephrology. Right from the start of his career, Dr. Sengupta was passionate about Research. During the MD programme he worked on Cirrhotic Cardiomyopathy, Autonomic Neuropathy of Lupus, and Insulin resistance in Diabetics. All these research studies were published in national journals. During his postdoctoral study in Nephrology, he worked on Hemodialysis efficiency, and suggested an angular placement of the Dialyser in order to increase efficiency. This innovative concept was accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Nephrology, Milan, in 2009, and also published in Hemodialysis International. Dr. Sengupta also worked on Plasmapheresis – a blood filtering technique by which toxic and pathogenic immunoglobulins can be removed from the body. He studied the role of Prethymectomy Plasmapheresis in Myasthenia Gravis patients, and his findings were published in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. The patient-empowered nutritional model for nutritional care of kidney patients is another interesting and innovative area in which Dr. Sengupta has worked for quite a long time. Dr.Pratim Sengupta won the Bharat Jyoti award for his excellency in the field of medicine. He is also the president of our non-governmental organization, The Kidney Care Society. His tireless contribution to provide quality living for his patients is worth mentioning. He introduced Mukti, blending ancient Indian yoga with modern medicine for well being of every patient. He has also introduced an unique online course "Art of Living with diabetes" which is a complete solution to diabetes management. He has authored many books, blogs, for the patients. Searching and researching for solutions to problems in the field of Nephrology remains the passion and dream of Dr. Pratim Sengupta, and he intends to persist on this journey as long as he is conscious. Meanwhile, even as he pursues his dreams, Dr. Sengupta diligently puts into practice all he has learned about Nephrology over the years, at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata and ILS hospital,Dumdum where he is available for his patient

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