Posted by Bangzkie Thursday, March 8, 2012
Flax (also known as common flax or linseed) (binomial name: Linum usitatissimum) is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent.Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Ethiopia and ancient Egypt. In a prehistoric cave in the Republic of Georgia, dyed flax fibers have been found that date to 30,000 BC, implicating it as the first domesticated species in human history. New Zealand flax is not related to flax but was named after it, as both plants are used to produce fibers.
Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fiber. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which is used as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. Flax is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens.
Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber as well as lignans, an abundance of micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids (table). Flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, especially in women.Initial studies suggest that flax seeds taken in the diet may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers.A study done at Duke university suggests that flaxseed may stunt the growth of prostate tumors,although a meta-analysis found the evidence on this point to be inconclusive.Flax may also lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels.There is some support for the use of flax seed as a laxative due to its dietary fiber content though excessive consumption without liquid can result in intestinal blockage.Consuming large amounts of flax seed may impair the effectiveness of certain oral medications, due to its fiber content,and may have adverse effects due to its content of neurotoxic cyanogen glycosides and immunosuppressive cyclic nonapeptides.One of the main components of flax is lignan, which has plant estrogen as well as antioxidants (flax contains up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods contain)