lower cholesterol levels.
control blood sugar levels.
regulate bowel movements or prevent constipation.
The omega-3 fatty acids may help:
prevent or treat heart disease or strokes.
protect the body against high blood pressures, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.
Flax contains generous amounts of soluble and insoluble fibres and the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Soluble fibre - Most of the soluble fibre in flax seeds is mucilage, a thick, sticky substance. Few studies have looked at the direct effects of mucilage on health. However, it is well known that soluble fibres ― fruit pectin, oat bran or mustard seed mucilage ― are effective cholesterol-lowering agents.
Insoluble fibre - Not surprisingly, studies show that the insoluble fibre in flax, like that in wheat bran, is helpful for regulating bowel movements and preventing constipation. Because flax's insoluble fibre components have the capacity to hold water, they help soften the stool and allow it to move through the colon more quickly.
Lignans - When bacteria in the digestive tract act on plant lignans these compounds are converted into potent hormone-like substances. Research on animals suggest these substances may have powerful positive effects on our day to day health. Flax is also one of the richest sources of lignans in the plant kingdom. Researchers are particularly interested in the cancer-fighting ability of lignans.
Fats - More than 70 per cent of fat in flax is of the healthful polyunsaturated type. In fact, a unique feature of flax is the high ratio of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) to linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids).
Nutritionists consider these two polyunsaturated fatty acids as essential because the body cannot manufacture them from any other substances. That means they must be eaten as part of the diet.
Cholesterol can be reduced by adding flax to the diet. Research also suggests that ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) offers protective effects against both coronary heart disease and stroke. Omega-3s have been shown to also protect against hypertension, and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Studies have shown that omega-3s may change growth of tumour cells, biomarkers, and structure of the cells in relation to breast cancer. Long-term studies of flax effects on breast cancer are underway.