History of Flaxseed
Humans have realized the benefits of flaxseed since the beginning of civilization.
Prior to 5000 BC, Egyptians carried flaxseed in their medical bags. Later, Hippocrates stated in some of his writings that flaxseed was a curative for abdominal pains. For more than 8,000 years, flaxseed has been used as a laxative, a plant food responsible for adding and sustaining energy, and for its curative properties.
During the eight century, King Charlemagne passed proclamations requiring the consumption of flaxseed to insure the health and wellbeing of his subjects.
Despite its long history, flaxseed is still unknown and a mystery to many. In more recent centuries, flaxseed has been grown across Europe, Africa and now, North America. However, it along with soy and other plant foods are just starting to gain in popularity in the world of nutrition.
There are many health threats that appear to be helped with the consumption of flaxseed. Among these are cardiovascular health, digestion, the inhibiting of tumor formation, a decrease in menopause symptoms, an increase in general stamina, the reduction of the inflammation of arthritis, and even the production of silky smooth skin and shiny hair. Ongoing scientific research is continuing to pursue other nutritional and medical benefits related to flaxseed and flaxseed products.
Whole ground flaxseed has a nutty, butter flavor and is one of the most potent sources of nutrients in the plant kingdom. It is one of the richest sources of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), one of the fatty acids in the omega-3 family, considered super-unsaturated fat or a “good” fat.
The Omega-3 fatty acids, also found in salmon, leafy vegetables and nuts, help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering elevated blood fat (serum, triglycerides) and reducing blood pressure. Flaxseed is also a great source of insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels.
Along with Omega-3 fatty acids and added fiber, flaxseed also contains a phytoestrogen, a naturally occurring plant estrogen called “lignans”. Lignans also have many health benefits including prevention of bone loss, reduced risk of colon cancer and estrogen-related breast cancer, as well diminished symptoms of menopause. Flax SDG lignans are one of the richest sources of plant phytoestrogens.
Whole ground (or milled) flaxseed and flaxseed oil, as well as flaxseed added to baked goods and other food products (to enhance their nutritional value) have benefited from scientific research and the availability of a significant variety of supplement and food products. By comparison, research into supplement, and additives to food products related to flax SDG lignans, is only in its infancy.