Flaxseed or linseed ( Linum usitatissimum L.) is derived from the flax plant, an annual herb believed to have originated in Egypt. They also used the fiber contained in the flax plant to make clothes, fishnets, and other products. The flax seed has a nutty, butter flavor and contains a virtual powerhouse of nutrients. It is one of the richest sources of alpha-linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid in the omega-3 family, which is considered super-unsaturated fat or a “good” fat.
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have consumed flaxseed. Before 5000 BC, Egyptians carried flaxseed in their medicinal bag. Later on in history, Hippocrates the father of medicine had stated that flaxseed was used for the relief from abdominal pains.
The food that actually fed an army
During the eighth century, the French Emperor Charlemagne passed laws requiring the consumption of flaxseed by his subjects to ensure their good health. His army had a ration which included flaxseed. For 8,000 years flaxseed has been used as a source for sustaining energy.
The seed can be bought all year long. The seed has a very good power of conservation. Most grocery stores have them in the rice and beans section.
Latest Cancer Researches
There are around 150 scientific articles on flaxseed and cancer so far. One interesting article, published in the Cancer epidemiology biomarkers & prevention by a team from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center showed that the after 30 days use, prostate cancer proliferation was cut in half. Another study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst made with women, published in Nutrition and Cancer, found favorable influence on estrogen and androgen concentrations, particularly in overweight/obese women. This functional food was also shown to influence angiogenesis by blocking estradiol effect.
Types of Cancers Affected
Flax seed contains about 20% of omega-3 by weight, that would equate to 1 to 2 tablespoons of flax seed per day. You need to grind (with a coffee grinder) the fresh seed to increase its absorption. Otherwise the whole seed will pass without been digested. You can add them as biscuit crumbs to your soups, cereals, pasta or chicken breast.
Cancer Protection level
1. Sung MK, Lautens M, Thompson LU. Mammalian lignans inhibit growth of estrogen-independent human colon tumor cells. Anticancer Research. 1998;18(3A):1405-1408.
2. Newcomer LM, King IB, Wicklund KG, Stanford JL. The association of fatty acids with prostate cancer risk. Prostate. 2001;47(4):262-268.
3. Demark-Wahnefried W, Polascik TJ, George SL, Switzer BR, Madden JF, Ruffin MT 4th, Snyder DC, Owzar K, Hars V, Albala DM, Walther PJ, Robertson CN, Moul JW, Dunn BK, Brenner D, Minasian L, Stella P, Vollmer RT. Flaxseed supplementation (not dietary fat restriction) reduces prostate cancer proliferation rates in men presurgery. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3577-87.
4. Sturgeon SR, Heersink JL, Volpe SL, Bertone-Johnson ER, Puleo E, Stanczyk FZ, Sabelawski S, Wahala K, Kurzer MS, Bigelow C. Effect of dietary flaxseed on serum levels of estrogens and androgens in postmenopausal women. Nutr Cancer. 2008;60(5):612-8
5. Bergman Jungeström M, Thompson LU, Dabrosin C. Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo. Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Feb 1;13(3):1061-7.