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Linseed, or flaxseed, is one of the most potent sources of omega 3 fatty acids found in nature.  It has a whole host of health benefits, and best of all, these benefits apply to everyone.  Read on to learn more.

What is Linseed/Flaxseed?

Linseed, also known as flaxseed, is the richest source of omega 3 essential fatty acids.  It contains 50 to 50 percent omega 3s, almost twice as much as is contained in fish oil.  Because it comes from a plant source, it is perfect for vegetarian and vegan diets, although it benefits everybody.  Linseed/flaxseed oil differs from most vegetables oils in that it provides linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid, both of which are needed by the body and must be obtained through the diet.

Benefits of Linseed/Flaxseed

Linseed improves the quality of hair, nails, and skin, helps to regulate body weight, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and prevents arthritis and cancers.  It has the following benefits:

• Heart disease – the omega 3 fatty acids lower high blood cholesterol and triglycerides.  They also decrease the probability of clots in the arteries which may lead to stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or peripheral vascular disease occurring.  They can also lower high blood pressure.
• Cancers – according to research, omega 3 fatty acids can kill human cancer cells on the same culture.
• Arthritis – omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be helpful in the treatment and prevention of arthritis.
• Asthma – linseed oil can relieve asthma noticeably by decreasing inflammation and improving lung function.
• PMS – omega 3 fatty acids can relieve or even eliminate PMS symptoms.
• Allergies – omega 3 fatty acids help to decrease allergic response.
• Water retention – linseed oil helps the kidneys to remove sodium and water.
• Skin conditions – linseed oil is renowned for its ability to improve the texture and quality of the skin, and will also alleviate skin conditions that are caused by the lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet.
• Vitality – the use of linseed oil can result in increased vitality and more energy.  Stamina is improved.
• Feeling calm during stress – omega 3 fatty acids prevent excess toxic biochemicals that the body produces under stress.

The flax plant yields the fibre from which linen is made as well as seeds and oil.  Linseed is highly unsaturated and heart healthy.  The lignans and other components of the seed may also have antioxidant properties, allowing them to reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals.

Using Linseed/Flaxseed

Linseed, or flaxseed, has a pleasant, nutty flavour and can be sprinkled on cereals, into yoghurts, and smoothies.  You can also choose to take it in the form of the oil, or as a supplement in capsule form.  To gain the most benefit from the seeds, be sure to grind them or chew them very well otherwise they will simply pass through the body whole.  Keep the seeds or oil refrigerated.  Alternatively, keep the oil in a dark place.  Do not use the oil for frying or sautéing.

The recommended daily dose for most people is at least 1000mg taken one to three times daily.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not consume large amounts of flax.

Indications of Omega 3 Deficiency

Some indications that you may be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids include:

• dry skin
• “chicken skin” – tiny, rough bumps that are usually found on the backs of the arms
• dry or unruly hair
• dandruff
• soft, fraying, or brittle nails
• menstrual cramps
• premenstrual breast tenderness


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