has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased. Flaxseed is what's used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
The Health Benefits of Flax
Although Lilian Thompson, PhD, an internationally known flaxseed researcher from the University of Toronto, says she wouldn’t call any of the health benefits of flax "conclusively established," research indicates that flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.
In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.
The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure
to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.
Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.
Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.