The Benefits of Flaxseed

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How healthful is flaxseed?
Would love to know how it worked with your pie! Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemical compounds with antioxidant qualities. A bronze-age factory dedicated to flax processing was discovered in Euonymeia. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Although brown flaxseed may be consumed as readily as the yellow varieties, and have been for thousands of years, its better-known uses are in paints, for fiber, and for cattle feed. Flax has about eight grams of fiber in one ounce compared to about 11 grams in one ounce of chia seeds. I made a vegan quiche last week and, while it was really tasty, I found it to lack the congealed texture of eggs.

Nuts, Seeds & Legumes Topics

Flax Seed (Linseed): Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects and Facts

Eating just two tablespoons of flaxseeds per day will provide about 20 percent to 25 percent of your fiber needs. Alpha-linolenic acid ALA is an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been found in studies to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and hypertension, improve platelet function, reduce inflammation, promote healthy endothelial cell function, protect arterial function and reduce heart arrhythmias. Regardless of conversion, ALA is still considered a healthy fat and should be included in a balanced diet.

Why is flaxseed good for your hair? Flaxseeds benefits for hair include making it shinier, stronger and more resistant to damage. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea and eczema. The same benefits also apply to eye health, as flax can help reduce dry eye syndrome due to its lubricating effects. Flaxseed oil is another great option for your skin, nails, eyes and hair since it has an even higher concentration of healthy fats. If you want healthier skin, hair and nails, consider adding two tablespoons of flaxseeds to your smoothie or one tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your daily routine.

You can take up to one to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil by mouth per day to hydrate your skin and hair. It can also be mixed with essential oils and used topically as a natural skin moisturizer, since it seeps into your skin and reduces dryness. Soluble flax fiber also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and therefore lowering cholesterol.

Studies show that flaxseeds not flaxseed oil can significantly lower these lipids. One study split 70 hyperlipidemia patients into two groups; the intervention group received 30 grams of raw flaxseed powder every day for 40 days.

At the end of the study, their serum lipids were measured again. The group taking the flaxseed powder saw their serum lipids reduced. Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains in recipes. Grains, especially those containing gluten, can be hard to digest for many people, but flax is usually easily metabolized and also anti-inflammatory.

As a gluten-free method of baking, I often use flaxseed along with coconut flour in recipes to add moisture, form a desirable texture and get some healthy fats. Lignans provide us with antioxidants that help reduce free radical damage, therefore flax has anti-aging, hormonal-balancing and cellular-regenerating effects.

They are found in unprocessed plant foods, including seeds, whole-grains, beans, berries and nuts. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor gut health, smoking, antibiotics and obesity, all affect circulating lignan levels in the body, which is why a nutrient-dense diet is important for restoring levels. For example, in postmenopausal women, lignans can cause the body to produce less active forms of estrogen, which is tied to increased protection against tumor growth.

Lignans are also known for their antiviral and antibacterial properties, therefore consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus. One of the most well-researched benefits of flaxseed is its ability to promote digestive health. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system. Because it can help bulk up stool and flush waste from the GI tract due to its gel-like quality, flaxseed is considered one of the best natural remedies for constipation.

As part of a healthy diet, flaxseeds may be able to help prevent certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.

For this reason, flax is included in the Budwig diet protocol , a natural approach to helping prevent and treat cancer. This has led some experts to recommend mostly plant-based diets for reducing risks of hormone-related cancers. The lignans found in flaxseeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol types of estrogens , which is believed to be how flax naturally helps balance hormones.

Balanced hormones meaning not too little or too much estrogen and progesterone can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other problems in women. Since flax is full of healthy fats and fiber, it helps you feel satisfied for longer.

This means you may wound up eating fewer calories overall, which may lead to weight loss. ALA fats may also help reduce inflammation and help with hormonal balance, which might be standing in the way of you losing weight.

Add a couple of teaspoons of ground flaxseed to soups, salads or smoothies daily as part of your weight loss plan. In fact, flaxseed can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy in some cases or as a complementary approach to balancing hormones due to the estrogenic properties that lignans have. It can even help menstruating women by helping to maintain cycle regularity, such as encouraging a normal length luteal phase the period between ovulation and menstruation.

When you look at the nutritional benefits of flaxseed, there are many things that will catch your attention.

Faxseeds also contain a good amount of vitamin B6, folate, iron, potassium and zinc. Look for flaxseed in major grocery stores, health food stores and online. There are many great ways to add these super seeds into your diet, including adding them to homemade muffins, breads and cookies. How much flaxseed should you eat a day? Aim for about two to three tablespoons daily for proper dietary flaxseed supplementation.

What about storage of flaxseeds? While many sources recommend that you store your flaxseeds ground or whole in an opaque container in the fridge or freezer, the Flax Council of Canada differs: Flaxseed is one of the oldest cultivated crops known to man, having been grown and consumed for thousands of years. Flaxseeds have also been historically fed to livestock to increase their health. Today they are considered one of the best foods for reducing inflammation and promoting gut health, whether someone is a vegetarian, vegan, following the Paleo diet, or on a low-carb or even ketogenic diet.

What are the potential side effects of eating flaxseeds and dietary flaxseed supplementation? The fiber in flaxseed may impair absorption of some medications. Additionally, avoid flaxseeds if you have hormone-sensitive breast or uterine cancer, and use with caution if you have high cholesterol and are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world High in Fiber but Low in Carbs One of the most extraordinary benefits of flaxseed is that flax contains high levels of mucilage gum content, a gel-forming fiber that is water-soluble and therefore moves through the gastrointestinal tract undigested.

Gluten-Free Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains in recipes. Supports Digestive Health One of the most well-researched benefits of flaxseed is its ability to promote digestive health. Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet.

Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.

Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today's foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to new flax-based products were launched in the U. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased. Flaxseed is what's used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:. Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer , prostate cancer , and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth. The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease. Research suggests that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat.

Fitzpatrick says new research also suggests significant blood pressure -lowering effects of flaxseed. Those effects may be due to both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the amino acid groups found in flaxseed. More research is needed on this. Eating flaxseed daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease , obesity , diabetes , and metabolic syndrome. A study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for a year.

Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol -lowering effects of flaxseed are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans. Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Two components in flaxseed, ALA and lignans, may reduce the inflammation that accompanies certain illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and asthma by helping block the release of certain pro-inflammatory agents, Fitzpatrick says. ALA has been shown to decrease inflammatory reactions in humans.

And studies in animals have found that lignans can decrease levels of several pro-inflammatory agents. Reducing inflammation associated with plaque buildup in the arteries may be another way flaxseed helps prevent heart attack and strokes. One study of menopausal women, published in , reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half.

The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks. But another study reported no significant reduction in hot flashes between postmenopausal women and breast cancer patients eating a bar containing milligrams of phytoestrogens from ground flaxseed and women eating a placebo bar.

The results, says Thompson, are consistent with other studies that have shown no siginifcant difference in the effect on hot flashes between flaxseed and placebo. It's tempting to think of flaxseed as a super food because of its many potential health benefits. But keep in mind there is no magic food or nutrient that guarantees improved health. What matters is consistently making great dietary choices as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Until more is known, Thompson says, pregnant women and possibly breastfeeding mothers should not supplement their diets with ground flaxseed.

But a study of another investigator showed the opposite effect," Thompson says. Many experts believe it's better to consume flaxseed than flax oil which contains just part of the seed so you get all the components. But stay tuned as researchers continue to investigate.

Thompson says, "Ground flaxseed, in general, is a great first choice, but there may be specific situations where flax oil or the lignans taken in amounts naturally found in flaxseed might be as good. How much flaxseed do you need? The optimum dose to obtain health benefits is not yet known. But 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day is currently the suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada.

Ready to try flaxseed? Her opinions and conclusions are her own. Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them: Omega-3 essential fatty acids , "good" fats that have been shown to have heart -healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1. Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to times more lignans than other plant foods.

Flaxseed Isn't a Magic Bullet