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Flax: Potential Health Benefits


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http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/33 ... LanchO7DiU


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Health experts have differing opinions on the extent of flax's health benefits. There isn't enough reliable data yet to support all of the claims, according to organizations such as the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is also funding studies on flax.


Flax is high in alpha-linolenic acid, which converts to an omega-3 fatty acid, an essential fat. Healthy fats such as those in flaxseed are healing and beautifying, according to author Ann Louise Gittleman. They can improve hair, skin and nails. They're good for the brain and can help with attention or concentration difficulties and mood swings, she said.

Most Americans don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids, said the University of Minnesota's Angie Moeding, so flax is one way to supplement your diet with more of these healthy fats. Benefits may also include improved heart health, inflammation reduction and lower triglycerides, a form of fat in the blood, Moeding said.


Lignans act like antioxidants, which can reduce cell-damaging free radicals and toxins in the body. Lignans also contain a plant-based compound that acts like estrogen and may help regulate hormones. They may improve breast health, reduce symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, slow tumor growth in breast cancer patients and protect against cancer.


Flaxseed is high in soluble and insoluble fiber, packing 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Be sure you're well hydrated when eating flaxseed to avoid digestive upset. Start with 1 tablespoon of flax at a time and work your way up to two tablespoons per day. Fiber acts as a laxative and can improve digestive health, regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

Remember that supplements such as flax might interfere with medications or certain conditions. You may want to talk with your health care provider about adding flax to your diet.

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(StarTribune, St. Paul Minnesota, Sarah Moran, November 2, 2008)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not being posted with the intention of being medical advice of any kind.

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