By now you know that flaxseeds are packed with omega-3s and other healthy nutrients. However, there’s even more to flaxseeds. Here are some additional flax facts:
Most plant foods have at least small amounts of phytonutrients named lignans, which are fiber-related polyphenols providing antioxidants and fiber-like benefits. Flaxseeds, however, have a water-soluble, gel-forming fiber called mucilage, or gum, which provides intestinal tract support. As a matter of fact, flaxseeds’ mucilage gum content are called arabinoxylans and galactoxylans, and they help prevent rapid emptying of the stomach into the small intestine, thereby ensuring better nutrient absorption.
Another fact is that flaxseeds are the number one source of lignans in the human diet. In fact, flaxseeds have about 7 times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds. Likewise, flaxseeds contain about 338 times as many lignans as sunflower seeds, 475 times as many lignans as cashews and 3,200 times as many lignans as peanuts.
Then there’s flaxseed’s antioxidant power. When you think of foods packed with antioxidants, you might typically think of blueberries or other fruits and veggies. However, flaxseeds rank 9th out of the 100 commonly eaten foods for their antioxidant content. Antioxidants, of course, fight off free radicals, while helping to support cardiovascular and blood sugar health, among other things, including improvement in metabolic syndrome.
For instance, one study showed a 20 percent decrease in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome after only 12 weeks on a diet plan that included only one ounce of ground flaxseeds daily. Additionally, flaxseeds support healthy inflammation levels, blood pressure levels, fasting glucose levels and even a healthy waist measurement.
As for inflammation, the primary omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed—alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA—is the basis for supporting healthy inflammation levels, while protecting blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Two other omega-3 fatty acids also increase in the bloodstream after eating flaxseeds—namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), another important, but lesser known, omega-3 fatty acid—both of which help protect the body from unhealthy inflammation levels.
The lignans in flaxseeds provide protection from unhealthy inflammation as well and can lead to a 10 percent to 15 percent decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammatory status in the cardiovascular system. Additionally, eating flaxseeds can support healthy cholesterol levels and increase the level of apolipoprotein A1, the major protein in “good cholesterol,” HDL cholesterol.
As if that weren’t enough, flaxseeds also can increase activity of certain “Phase II” detoxification enzymes in the body that are responsible for deactivating toxins in the body so that they don’t cause unwanted health consequences.
To top it all off, flaxseeds are hardy, too. You can add them to your healthy bread, muffins or cookies recipes, and they can withstand temps up to at least 300 degrees Fahrenheit—with baking times from 15 minutes to 3 hours. What’s more is that all the omega-3 content of the flaxseeds remained intact after being exposed to that level of heat for a prolonged period of time..
So, there they are . . . some pretty fascinating flax facts.