You may have landed on this post because you are looking to enhance your nutrition to live a healthier lifestyle. Well, you’ve found it! Flaxseed will add numerous health benefits if incorporated into your daily diet.
Recent studies and medicine have found flaxseeds to have a plethora amount of benefits.
In fact, during the 8th century, Charles the Great believed so strongly in the health benefits of adding flaxseeds, that he passed laws to make sure his country ate it.
So, now that you’ve landed here and are hearing all about this ancient fiber crop, let’s take a look at the tasty perks:
What’s in Flaxseed?
Flax seeds are a fiber crop and food that is grown in cooler regions of the world. Flax dates back to over 30,000 years ago and resemble a sesame seed or a sunflower seed.
They are the richest source of a plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), in the world!
This small brown seed has a mild nutty flavor that you can use to bake with to add texture. For years, people have also used flax as a crunchy topping for a variety of dishes.
The healthy fiber in flax seed is found primarily in the outer coat of each seed. Flax seed fiber seems to make people feel less hungry when taken before a meal, which lowers the amount of food you consume.
Adding flax and flax oil to your diet are a wonderful source of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Micronutrients (calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin E)
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin B1
One tremendous diet and health benefit of flax seeds is that it contains a beneficial amount of plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities called lignans.
Flax seed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Yes, you read that correctly, almost 1,000 times more lignans!
But why are they so important to your health?
- Lignans help regulate hormone levels
- Extremely high in antioxidants and may support the immune system
- Lignans compete with estrogen which may help with menopausal symptoms in women
- Inhibit certain enzymes needed in the conversion of testosterone to DHT. This results in lower DHT which may improve prostate health
In some studies, lignans were able to prevent the development of diabetes by 75%. The consumption of flax seed has proven to enhance blood lipids and has shown statistically significant improvements in glycemic control in type 2 diabetic patients.
Insoluble or Soluble Fiber?
Actually this super food contains both insoluble and soluble fibers. But what is the difference between the two and why are they important to your health?
Soluble fiber gets its name from being able to dissolve in water. When this fiber dissolves in your small intestines, it turns it into a thick, syrup like texture. This prevents your body from absorbing cholesterol by binding to it.
By adding more flax seed to your diet, you can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Flax seed also contains insoluble fibers— the opposite of soluble. Insoluble fibers don’t absorb or dissolve in water and can not be absorbed by your intestines. This offers many benefits to your intestinal health, including a reduction in the risk and occurrence of hemorrhoids and constipation.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
If your doctor ever told you that your cholesterol was running high, he/she probably pointed you in the direction of taking omega-3 fish oil pills.
Flax seed contains large amounts of omega-3’s. In fact, flax seed contains the highest amounts of omega-3 compared to any other food in the world.
According to the U.S. 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee it was reported that 70% of Americans are deficient in omega-3-fatty acids.
Omega-3’s are not only required by your body to function, but incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet can lead to better health. Some benefits include:
- Increased lung functions and reduced asthma
- Reduced symptoms of ADHD
- Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular problems like heart disease
- Subside depression symptoms
But why are omega-3’s so important to your health? Because our bodies are capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs, except for two:
- linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in foods and supplements.
Benefits Of Flax Seed
So now we understand what flax seed is and what it contains — but how does it help you to become more healthy?
I would imagine that you know someone or know someone who knows someone that has had cancer in their lifetime. Let’s face it, cancer is not a nice problem to go through. Cancer effects everyone close to the patient, from family to friends.
According to SEER data, 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. To stay ahead of cancer and avoid any diagnoses, adding flax seed to your diet and nutrition can help reduce the risk of developing cancers. Avoiding fast foods, eating healthy breakfast foods, and avoiding smoking, are all good starting points that can help you avoid cancers.
Flax seed has shown large amounts of anticancer potential from their plant based omega-3 fatty acids. When consuming flax seed regularly, it has been shown to inhibit the growth and metastasis of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma.
Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that the lignans in flax seeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Stay smart and start consuming flax seed regularly.
Unless you are eating salmon three nights a week with the kids, you probably are not getting the recommended amount of omega-3’s according to the American Heart Association. Flax seeds can help add to your needed recommended levels of omega-3’s.
Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and, flax seed may decrease your risk of heart disease.
Pay attention to low glycemic indexed foods.
Earlier I mentioned the fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). People who have a diet rich in ALA foods have a higher reduction in heart disease and heart attacks.
A study showed that women who consumed 1.5 grams per day, had a 46% lower risk of cardiac arrest compared to those who only consumed around .5 grams per day.
Other studies show that those who consume larger amounts of ALA in their diets have less risk of sudden death from heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications.
Researchers don’t know whether taking alpha-linolenic acid supplements would have the same effect as eating foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid. So be sure to stick with eating flax seed just to be safe.
I stated earlier that flax seed contains plant estrogen. These plant based chemicals act similar to regular human estrogen and may help reduce symptoms of menopause.
When consuming phytoestrogens from flax seed, it was shown to reduce the amounts of hot flashes and vaginal dryness in menopausal women. In a study of 30 women, the mean decrease in hot flashes after flax seed therapy was 57%.
The reason flax seed is thought to help with reducing symptoms, is due to the binding of phytoestrogen to estrogen receptors.
Many of your body’s cells contain estrogen receptors on the surface (in both men and women).
When the body’s estrogen levels are not being produced, or replaced, these cell receptors lie dormant and are replaced by non estrogens. This is where the flax seed phytoestrogens come in. They bind to the receptors and stimulate the cell by producing critical substances including:
- Mucosal secretions
For improving mild menopausal symptoms try incorporating 40 grams of crushed flax seed or flax seed in bread daily.
Trust me, finding creative ways to add flax seeds to your meals can be a challenge. One popular technique is to incorporate ground flax seeds into your muffins, cookies, or bread recipes. Check my previous post on making healthy desserts here.
The best way to make sure you are able to get all the nutrients and benefits of flax seed is to grind them up.
I would suggest grinding a cup of flax seeds in a coffee grinder to use while cooking. This will allow you to get a nice meal form to use as an additive to you favorite foods.
Flax seeds are great to add to your favorite meals and seasonings including:
You can also substitute eggs with flax seeds. For any recipe that calls for eggs, try swapping in flax seeds. Use 2 tablespoons of flax with 2 tablespoons of water to replace one egg.
There are numerous amounts of flax recipes that are pretty easy to make. My favorite is banana bread. The easiest way to make it is like this:
To download our flax seed banana bread recipe you may click the button below to print and save.
Try adding the banana peel to get even more nutrients.
Flax seeds contain a hefty amount of health benefits for everyone. I’ll be the first one to tell you that flax seeds are a great additive to any meal to increase your health.
But with anything, there are always precautions to take into consideration when adding flax seed to your diet. Flax seed may increase the number of bowel movements each day due to its insoluble fiber properties.
At first, I would suggest starting with small amounts of flax seeds added to your diet to get an idea of your body will react.
If you are pregnant, speak with your doctor about incorporating flax seeds into your daily nutrition. Since flax seeds contain estrogen there may be concerns with pregnant women consuming flax seed. Some healthcare providers worry that this might harm the pregnancy.
Until then, I plan on making some great recipes to stay healthier.
What are your experiences with flax seeds? be sure to let us know in the comments below.