November 23, 2007, Newsletter Issue #251: FLAX SEED FACTS

Tip of the Week

Flax (linseed) has many wonderful benefits for horses and humans alike.

Flaxseed is unique among feeds because of its high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid. Horses need a minimum level of key fats to maintain good health. These essential fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6. A horse cannot produce these fats in their body, thus they are an essential part of his diet.

Characteristics of a lack of essential fatty acids may include, dull coat with dry itchy skin and cracking hooves.

Flax also is a rich source of fibre, especially soluble fibre which gels when exposed to water (similar to psyllium). It is helpful in preventing impaction and sand colic as the fibre swells and the gel like consistency traps and suspends sand, bringing it out of the system. The fibre is rich in lignans, substances believed to be linked to the cancer fighting effects of a high fibre diet. It also has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Flaxseed is 26% protein and rich in amino acids like methionine and lysine. It has good levels of antioxidants, including vitamin E and is a good source of magnesium and phosphorous.

To prepare flaxseed for your horse it must be ground, cooked or soaked. The seed hulls are small and tough and they wonīt be chewed enough to benefit the horse. Flaxseed, either whole or coarsely ground, appears stable to long-term storage at room temperature. Ground flax in an airtight opaque container can keep for up to 90 days in the fridge. Whole seeds last about a year.

Fresh flax has a pleasant nutty smell, while rancid flax smells fishy.

When adding flax to your horseīs diet (as with any feed change), always make gradual changes. For most horses 1/2 to 1 cup of linseed per day is sufficient. Itīs pleasant tasting and most horses gobble it up! Expect to see a shinier, more healthy looking horse in about a monthīs time!

The supplementing of flax seed oil will help with many conditions including:

* clear up skin conditions
* relieve arthritic and inflammatory pain
* increase bone strength
* improved skin and coat condition (decreased dandruff and a beautiful shine on their coats! Even some dappling)
* When a pregnant mare was fed flax, her offspring were larger, and grew faster than when previous to being fed flax within 9 months cracked hooves were completely healed
* Valuable source of energy (great to feed during the cold months or during times of stress to prevent weight loss)
* keeps less desirable saturated fats mobile in the blood stream
* increases oxygen uptake to the cell
* decreases recovery time from strenuous exercise
* Numerous studies conducted on animals and humans show that flax has powerful anti-tumour properties and may reduce tumour size by 50%.

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