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Cotton may be king, but the humble fax plant has helped keep people fed, clothed, and healthy for centuries. In fact, flax was probably one of the first crops cultivated by man, perhaps as long as as 8000 BC. Even the Bible makes note of the many uses of this versatile plant. The flax plant was used for the thatching of roofs, and fibers from the stem of the plant provided flax for weaving cloth, either fine linen for clothing or coarse cloth for tents. the seeds of the plant were eaten or pressed to make linseed oil for cooking.

According to other historical records, linseed oil has been used internally, as a laxative, and externally, to soften and soothe skin. Linseed oil is found today as an ingredient in paints, varnishes, and printer's ink.

The medicinal qualities of flax throughout the years have ranged from treating colds to helping remove foreign objects from the eye.

Modern medical research has confirmed some of the traditional benefits of flax and has found many others. For example :

Lowers cholesterol

Provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids

Protects against certain cancers

Increase the amount of fiber in your diet

Stimulates your immune system

4 ways flaxseed fights aging

Heads off heart disease. Are you careful to keep the oil changed in your car because you know that smoothly flowing oil will make your car last much longer ? You should try to keep your blood flowing smoothly, too, so your body can function like a well-oiled machine. The smoother and easier your blood flows, the less work your heart has to do. Your blood tends to get thicker and stickier with age, just like the oil in your car. While you can't run to the nearest quick-change shop and get a fresh supply of blood, adding a little flaxseed to your diet may be the next best thing.

Flaxseed or linseed is the best vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-s help keep your blood from becoming sticky, lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Controls cholesterol. Your daily bread can help keep damaging cholesterol under control. One study found that when people with high cholesterol ate six slices of flaxseed bread a day, their cholesterol levels dropped significantly, compared with those who ate six slices of wheat bread. Whenever you break bread, maybe you should make sure it has some cholesterol-clobbering, heart-protecting flaxseed inside.

Puts cancer to rest. Can a simple plant fight the most deadly of diseases -- cancer ? Studies show that flax is one plant that may help put the squeeze on this killer disease. Lignans, a type of phytochemical or natural disease fighter that comes from plants, have been shown to prevent or slow the growth of several types of cancer. When researchers studied foods in an attempt to identify those that contained substances that make up lignan, they found that flaxseed contained 75 to 800  times more of those substances than other foods.

One study found that rats fed flaxseed and then exposed to cancer-causing substances cut their risks of developing colon cancer by more than half. Flaxseed may be especially effective at guarding against hormone-relate cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Gives kidneys a kick. Flaxseed may give failing kidneys a boost. Researchers conducted a study to see if people with systemic lupus erythematosus, a disease of the immune system, might be able to benefit from adding flaxseed to their diet. Lupus causes connective tissue to become inflamed, eventually causing damage to internal organs, particularly the kidneys. Sometimes the kidneys begin to fail, resulting in the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. The study participants stirred between 15 and 45 grams of flaxseed into their breakfast cereals, orange juice, and other beverages. Researchers found that the flaxseed improved kidney function and reduced the scarring of the kidney tissue that accompanies the disease.











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