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Flax Seeds and Nutritional Needs

WHAT IS FLAX?
Flax is a multipurpose crop that is grown throughout the world. Flaxseeds are relatively small (about the size of a sesame seed), and can be a reddish brown or a golden yellow color. Flaxseeds are often described as having a crunchy and chewy texture as well as a nutty flavor.

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT FLAX?
Despite their small size, flaxseeds pack quite a nutritional punch. Listed are their properties.

IS THERE REALLY FAT THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU?
Although many people think that fat is bad, some fats can actually be very beneficial to your health when consumed in the right amounts. There are three main types of fat:

All types of fat are high in calories, but it has been shown that replacing saturated and trans fats in you diet with unsaturated fats may lower your risk for heart disease. One type of unsaturated fat is polyunsaturated fat. Most of the fat in flaxseed is polyunsaturated with only a small amount coming from saturated fat. However, what makes flaxseed so unique is that it is the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids (a type of polyunsaturated fat). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids which, means that our body cannot make them so we must get them from our diet. The functions of omega-3 fatty acids are:

CAN FLAX HELP PREVENT DISEASES?
In recent years, many studies have focused on the disease fighting properties of flax or its components. Although the results of many of these studies seem promising, it is important to remember that more research on flax is still needed. Below is a short list of diseases and the ways that flax may help in prevention or treatment.

SO HOW DO YOU USE FLAX?
Flax is available at most specialty and health food stores, and can be purchased in four forms. The type of flax that you chose is dependent on the benefits of flax in which you are interested and purpose for which you intend to use flax.

For more information about adding flax to your diet talk to your doctor or a Registered Dietitian.

References
The Flax Council of Canada Web site
Reinhardt-Martin, Jane. Flax Your Way to Better Health. TSA press 2001.


If you are a registered University of Illinois student and you have questions or concerns,
or need to make an appointment, please call: Dial-A-Nurse at 333-2700

 

If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information in this handout,

you are advised to contact your health care provider.

 

Visit the McKinley Health Center Web site at: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu


HEd. III-236

© The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2006.

02-03-06

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