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It’s Flax to the Max!

The Boundless Nutritional Benefits of Flaxseed

Women would be wise to get their "flax fix:"  It may help prevent osteoporosis.

Women would be wise to get their "flax fix:" It may help prevent osteoporosis.

Is it me, or does there seem to be an influx of flax in the supermarket these days?  From cereal boxes to pita shells, oatmeal mixes to muffin recipes; flax is spreading its wings and winging its way into our diet.  And it’s about time, too, because flax is one of the best things you can eat.

You probably already know about the array of flaxseed benefits.  These include a protection from long term health complications like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, but also protection from more acute complications, like preventing dry eyes and tempering women’s “hot flashes.”  And speaking of women, women would be particularly wise to load their diets with an influx of flax, as a recent study has shown the effectiveness of flaxseed oil in warding off osteoporosis.

To see if flax could flex its bone-development muscle, researchers did quite a bit of re-working to a group of 70 rats.  For instance, in 30 of the rats, they removed their ovaries to decrease the amount of estrogen that’s produced.  This group served as an example of women in a post-menopausal state.  In other rats, they were genetically altered so that they would produce signs and symptoms of type I diabetes.  This was done to confirm if diabetes truly contributes to osteoporosis development.

They then gave some of the “diabetic” rats flaxseed oil and some of the “post-menopausal” rats flaxseed oil to see if it had any impact on osteoporosis development.  One way of determining this was through urine samples, where they test for the production of bone-building proteins like osteocalcin.  Osteocalcin is one of many proteins found in the blood and urine, but when there’s an especially high amount found, that’s indicative of significant bone formation and resorption.  When there’s an unusually low amount—you guessed it—that’s a good sign that osteoporosis is either in the offing or well underway.

So when researchers found significant amounts of these proteins in the rats taking the flaxseed oil, they didn’t have to think too hard about what the catalyst was.

The rats supplemented with the flax for two months (which was the length of the study period), and the findings were published in the International Journal of Food Safety.  It was conducted by researchers from Cairo, Egypt.

Osteoporosis is not a “women’s only” problem, but women are four times more likely to get in their lifetime than men are.  The reason for this boils down to biology:  Women simply have less bone mass.  As a result, women represent the lion’s share of the combined 75 million osteoporosis cases in Japan, Europe and the United States.

Researchers say that the flaxseed’s bone-promoting benefits are likely due to its rich omega-3 fatty acid content.  You can say that again; just two tablespoons has an omega-3 content that’s 140 percent of the recommended daily value!

Besides getting a healthy dose through flaxseed oil supplements, it’s actually pretty easy to get them through your diet.  It just takes some tweaking here and there.

For instance, instead of sunflower seeds, sprinkle your salad with some flaxseeds.  They’re a sufficient substitute for sunflowers’ nuttiness without being overpowering, as flaxseeds are quite small (slightly larger than sesame seeds).

Or try adding them to fresh baked bread or muffin recipes; it’ll give every loaf and muffin morsel an extra shot of fiber.  Or add them to hot cereal mixes, like oatmeal or grits.

And that’s just for starters.  You’ll be amazed at how versatile flaxseeds can be in your breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.

Sources:
timesofindia.indiatimes.com
nutraingredients.com
whfoods.com

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