Flaxseed is an ancient crop. It has been cultivated for thousands of years. Over 5,000 BC, Egyptians carried flaxseed in their medicine bags. Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote about flax for the relief of abdominal pain. In 8th century France, King Charlemagne, required his subjects to consume flax. He felt it was very important to the health of his subjects. They probably didn’t know that Omega-3 fatty acids are important to every organ of your body. Or that flax is loaded with vitamins, minerals, trace elements and so much more! Flaxseed is also made of almost 30% protein. They just knew it provided great nutrition! What are the benefits of flaxseed? As Hippocrates is quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine by thy food.”
Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
Flaxseed are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. A typical serving size is 1 Tablespoon (7 grams). It contains 37 calories and 1.3 grams of protein. 1.9 grams of fiber and 2.0 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Flaxseed contains 1597 mgs of Omega-3s, as well as some B vitamins, folate, iron calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
Some studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed and flaxseed oil, would be beneficial to people with heart disease. It also suggests that flaxseed might help lower blood pressure. Adding flaxseed to your diet, is a valuable strategy to decrease the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Which means that it helps your veins and arteries to be healthy.
Flaxseed is a good source of Omega-3s. Several studies found that eating flaxseed lowers the LDL (“Lousy”) cholesterol levels in the participants. Fatty fish such as salmon or herring contain Omega-3s, and research suggests that flaxseed is also a great way to get those Omega-3s.
In a double-blinded, controlled clinical trial, participants consumed 30 grams of ground flaxseed daily, for six months. The flaxseed group had a significant reduction in their blood pressure.
Taking flaxseed daily might lower blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes patients. Studies were done, giving participants doses of 13 grams of flaxseed a day. The study showed lower glucose and insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
Flaxseed Helps Prevent Constipation
Ground flaxseed is made of 28% fiber. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of cancer. Insoluble fiber, or roughage, can keep things moving through your digestive track and help prevent constipation.
Flaxseed provides a good source of insoluble fiber. Flaxseed does not dissolve in water. It remains in the digestive tract after you eat, and absorbs water which adds bulk, to promote regularity.
Arthritis Relief – Reduced Inflammation
According to the Arthritis Foundation, flaxseed reduces inflammation. This benefits those with arthritis by helping to reduce inflammation.
Prostate and Breast Cancer
Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen which may protect against breast and prostate cancers.
“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
3 Benefits of Flaxseed
There are three main parts of the flaxseed which provide health benefits: fibre (both soluble and insoluble fibre), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), omega 3 fatty acid, and lignans.
The main benefits: Fiber provides roughage to the digestive track. Alpha-linolenic acid is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. Lignans are a plant chemical that is thought to lower the risk of heart disease. They protect against breast and prostate cancers. There are other benefits I have not mentioned.
What are Lignans?
Flaxseed is a good source of lignans. In the hulls of the flaxseed are found plant chemicals called lignans. In your digestive tract, these plant chemicals convert into plant estrogen. Research suggests that lignans may protect against several types of cancer, relieve menopause symptoms, and prevent heart disease. Flaxseed oil does not have the lignans found in whole or ground flaxseed. The antioxidant properties are found in the flaxseed itself.
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- When taken in recommended amounts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil is generally safe to use.
- Take flaxseed with plenty of water to prevent bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- Whole flaxseed stores very well and can be kept successfully for up to 9 months.
- Eat it right away to get the most benefit.
- To store ground flaxseed, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for no longer than 3 months after opening.
Grind Your Own Flaxseed!
When flaxseeds are eaten whole, you only get the benefits of the fibre and the lignans. However, you must chew them well in order to get the omega 3-fatty acid benefits of the seed.
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As a result some people like to grind their own flaxseed, it insures they are getting the full benefits of freshly ground flaxseed. You can buy grinders that are useful for this purpose. The grinders are useful for grinding coffee, herbs, spices, nuts, and grains as well as flaxseed.
Ways to Include Flaxseed in Your Diet
- Add 1 Tbsp to oatmeal and smoothies.
- It gives a nutty flavor when adding ground flaxseed as a topping to salads.
- Try a vinaigrette made with 1 Tsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp vinegar and 3 Tbsp flaxseed oil.
- You could add ground flaxseed to egg, tuna, or chicken salad.
- When baking, you could add ¼ cup flaxseed, whole or ground, to your bread recipe.
Disclaimer: Have a conversation with your healthcare provider before changing your diet. Excess amounts of flaxseed oil may increase bleeding for those taking blood-thinners.
Whole or Ground Flaxseed?
You must mill or grind whole flaxseed in order for the lignans to be absorbed by the body. The whole seed acts as a lubricant to your digestive system, and passes right through from top to bottom. Consequently, it helps prevent constipation.
Storing Ground Flaxseed
After opening the package of milled flaxseed, store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator or freezer. Use within 3 months to prevent it from going rancid.
According to the Arthritis Society “Ground flaxseed has ALA, however, flaxseed oil contains even more. In a 4-week study, volunteers consumed flaxseed oil for four weeks. Their ALAs significantly decreased pro-inflammatory compounds.”
What are the benefits of flaxseed? They are versatile in the kitchen and are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. In summary, flaxseeds are good for your heart and stable blood-sugar levels. Flaxseeds offer protection from some hormone-type cancers and reduce inflammation in the body. In this article we discussed what are the benefits of flaxseed. Furthermore, flaxseed and flaxseed oil are so versatile. They are easy to add to your diet and give you so much in return!
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear from you! I use flaxseed every day. Have you heard of flaxseed? Do you use flaxseed? What are some of your favorite ways to use flaxseed?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Always consult your healthcare professional with any concerns or questions you have about your health. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.