For such a small seed, flaxseed brings quite a bit to the table in the way of health benefits. Commonly found in foods ranging anywhere from yogurt to bread, flaxseed only continues to rise in demand. In fact, eggs that are high in omega-3 fatty acids come from chickens that are specifically fed flaxseed. If you’re thinking about adding flaxseed to your diet, there are plenty of reasons why you should do so immediately.
Healthy Properties of Flaxeed
WebMD goes over some of the most important properties of flaxseed that contribute to many of its health benefits.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered to be good fats that contain plant omega-3’s.
- Fiber. Soluble and insoluble fibers are both found in flaxseed.
- Lignans. Flaxseed is extremely high in lignans, and they contain antioxidant qualities, as well as plant estrogen.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
Many types of analysis have led scientists and researchers to believe that flaxseed contributes to many different types of health benefits. In fact, it’s quite effective at preventing many health conditions and diseases.
1. Flaxseed decreases the risk of cancer.
More specifically, when flaxseed is consumed in moderate amounts, a person’s risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer reduce reasonably. Particularly, the fatty acids were responsible for hindering tumor occurrence and growth in one study. The lignans in flaxseed also reduce breast cancer risk, and they can also contribute breast cancer patients’ survival. The antioxidant properties have hand in prevention of cancer as well.
2. Flaxseed helps the cardiovascular system.
It has been suggested by research that flaxseed can stabilize the heart rate, prevent heart failure, inhibit inflammation, and lower blood pressure significantly. Those that are at a heightened risk for heart attack will benefit from its ability to help prevent artery hardening, as well as plaque buildup.
3. Flaxseed can help prevent diabetes.
The lignans contained in flaxseed are capable of improving blood sugar levels by a reasonable amount. This health benefit was discovered in a study that tested adults living with type 2 diabetes.
4. Flaxseed helps with hot flashes.
In a research study conducted on women experiencing menopausal symptoms, it was found that just 2 tablespoons per day reduced their hot flashes by 50%. It was also observed that the severity of the episodes was significantly lower. Maximum beneficial effect from taking the flaxseed was noticed after just two weeks.
5. Flaxseed can inhibit inflammation.
Touched on briefly a little earlier, the lignans and ALA found in flaxseed can have a significant impact on inflammation, especially the type associated with asthma and Parkinson’s disease. The health properties in flaxseed work to prevent inflammation by blocking agents in the body that contribute to inflammation.
6. Flaxseed can help prevent bone loss.
Everyday Health shares that rats suffering from diabetes experienced slower bone loss after consuming flaxseed. This benefit can be contributed to the fatty acids in the flaxseed.
Helpful Tips and Hints for Using Flaxseed
It’s good to keep in mind that flaxseed isn’t perfect, and it can effect people in very different ways. While one woman might experience a significant reduction in hot flashes as well as their intensity, another woman might not notice a difference at all. Flaxseed won’t solve all of your problems, but when you make multiple thoughtful choices about your diet, your overall health will improve.
These are a few things to keep in mind when adding flaxseed to your diet.
- Flaxseed should not be consumed while pregnant or breastfeeding. In some studies, flaxseed was shown to increase the risk of breast cancer particularly in the offspring.
- You should consume flaxseed; not flaxseed oil. Of course, there’s nothing essentially dangerous about using flaxseed oil over its pure counterpart, but the actual seed contains all of the health benefits. The oil contains only a fraction of the seed.
- Grind the seed up before consuming. Be sure to either purchase the seed already ground, or do it yourself. When eaten whole, the seed is likely not going to be digested while in the intestinal tract. This means that you likely won’t benefit from its healthy properties.
- There is no difference between brown and golden flaxseed. While you’re out shopping, you’ll likely run across the two common variants of flaxseed: brown and golden. While they appear different in color, they are almost identical in terms of health benefits.
- Add the seed to foods you often eat. If you’re not a fan of the shake idea, you could always grind the seeds up and add them to your favorite foods. If you can turn this into a habit, you won’t even have to remind yourself to do it anymore.
- Milled and ground are interchangeable terms. When shopping, you might find yourself confused at the checkout when you realize you have flaxseed described as “milled” as opposed to ground. You can rest assured that milled and ground mean the same thing, and they both refer to flax meal.
- Freeze the ground flaxseed whenever possible. While it’s okay to leave a little bit out for meals, freeze excess ground flaxseed so that it doesn’t oxidize or lose its nutritional properties. Keep the flaxseed in a plastic bag for easy storage.
- Look for flaxseed online or in stores. If you’re having trouble locating flaxseed, you can usually find it near flours and grains in grocery stores. It can also be found in health stores or online. If you can find the seed already ground, purchase it that way. This saves you the trouble of having to do it yourself.