health benefits of flax
Today I start blogging, in several parts, on good fats. Hopefully Myth #3 of my Nutrition Manifesto has convinced you to get plenty of good fats in your diet every day? This week, I’ll post a new YouTube vid showing how to make Flax-Veggie crackers to address ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS, today’s and tomorrow’s topic. So if you haven’t subscribed to my vids (it’s free!), go to YouTube, find me by searching for “green smoothie” (I’m either #1 or #2), and subscribe! You’ll be notified every time I post a new demo. 12 Steppers, on April 1, you’ll get a chapter on good fats, with recipes and ideas on how to get them in your diet daily.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are the unsaturated omega-3 (alpha-lenolenic acid) and omega-6 (alpha-lenoleic acid) fats. They’re called “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them and therefore must be supplied by diet. (Your body can produce adequate omega-9s if enough essential fats are available.) These fats support many of the body’s systems, including the nervous, immune, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. EFAs are used by the body to make and repair cell membranes and eliminate waste from cells. They also produce prostoglandins, which regulate blood pressure, clotting, heart rate, and fertility. EFAs are particularly critical for babies, pregnant women, and children for neural development.
Americans are omega-3 deficient. We need a ratio of between 1:1 and 4:1 omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, but most Americans get between 10:1 and 25:1. Deficiencies in omega 3, as well as inappropriate omega 6 to omega 3 ratios, have been linked to many of the diseases the U.S. leads the world in: depression, cancer, heart disease, stroke, asthma, lupus, diabetes, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s. Americans get too much omega 6 partly because of our reliance on processed vegetable oils, which are high in damaged, low-grade versions of that nutrient.
If anyone experiences symptoms of depression, the first thing I recommend trying is flaxseed or flax oil in the diet every day, which can create dramatic improvement. Yet another reason to enjoy foods rich in EFAs is that they have the effect of combating damage done by the “bad fats.” The phytoestrogens in flax are known to balance hormones for women: too-high estrogen counts tend to come down, and too-low estrogen counts tend to come up, eating flaxseed. And compounds in this power food are well established tumor inhibitors, so anyone with a history or risk for cancer should take note.
The American Cancer Institute acknowledges 27 different compounds in flaxseed that are anti-carcinogenic! In recent years, a hot topic of research is the lignan compounds, a special carbohydrate known to prevent both cancer and heart disease, as well as inflammatory conditions. Flax has the highest known concentration of these lignans, 75 times higher than the next-highest food.
Sold on flax yet? Read tomorrow for more about eating it.