Health Benefits of Flaxseed

15 Feb 2021

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Have you heard of flaxseed? They’re tiny brown seeds that are highly nutritious that are also known by the name ‘Linseeds’. Just one teaspoon of flaxseeds contains a chock full of nutrients: namely Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, protein, and fibre. They’re known to be one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and they also contain vitamins and minerals. 

Flaxseeds are also known to be one of the oldest crops which have been cultivated in history. However, it is only recently that they have come to the forefront and are being recognized for their numerous health benefits re-emerging as a ‘superfood’. An excellent source of plant-based protein, there are many health benefits to eating flaxseeds. Here are some of them:

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Flaxseeds Are a Rich Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that the human body can’t produce by itself. So, it’s crucial to include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Apart from flaxseeds, Omega-3 fats are mostly found in fish, some vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and seeds. [2] Omega-3 fats are important as they regulate a number of functions in the body. Here are some of the benefits of Omega-3 acids:

  • Omega-3 acids are good for the heart and they help lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Omega-3 acids are good for eye health and prevent diseases such as macular degeneration.
  • Omega-3 acids help promote brain growth and healthy brain functioning.
  • Omega-3 acids have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Omega-3 acids can improve bone and joint health.

Flaxseeds Are High In Fibre

Flaxseeds are a rich source of dietary fibre. Flaxseeds contain mucilage gum which is a gel-like forming fibre that is water-soluble and moves slowly through your gut without being digested. This gel keeps food in the stomach and makes you feel full and satiated for a long period of time. This makes flaxseeds beneficial for people who are trying to lose weight. [1]

Flaxseeds Contain Lignans

Flaxseeds contain lignans which are antioxidants that act as a phytoestrogen i.e., having similar effects as estrogen, the female hormone. These compounds fight off cellular damage in the body. Hence, flaxseeds can be beneficial in preventing diseases such as cancer as they fight oxidation from free radical damage. Flaxseeds may have a positive effect on breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer by reducing tumour growth and metastasis [3].

Flaxseeds Are Good for Your Gut

Flaxseeds behave like a prebiotic, a precursor to probiotics which means that they facilitate the functioning of a healthy digestive system. Flaxseeds are also low in carbohydrates but high in fibre. This makes them a great colon detoxification support. This can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from constipation [2].

Flaxseeds Help Decrease Menopausal and Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Women

The lignans in flaxseeds are known to have several effects in women as they have estrogenic properties. They have been reported to be beneficial in reducing menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms in older women such as hot flashes. The lignans in flaxseeds are also beneficial for balancing the estrogen levels in the body which can help menstruating women maintain a regular cycle. In addition, flaxseeds can help lower the risk of developing osteoporosis [4].

Flaxseeds Can Help Reduce Cholesterol Levels

For those with high cholesterol problems, flaxseeds can be a good choice. Flaxseeds have been shown to naturally reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body. This is done as they can increase the number of fats excreted through bowel movements. The soluble fibre found in flaxseeds trap the cholesterol and fat through the digestive system and excrete it from the body.

Soluble Flax fibre also traps bile which contains cholesterol stored in the gallbladder and the bile is excreted through the faeces. This forces the body to make more bile using the excess cholesterol in the blood and hence lowers the cholesterol levels. This makes flaxseeds great at lowering your risk of heart disease [1].

Flaxseeds Help Keep Skin, Hair, and Nails Healthy

The lignans found in flaxseeds help balance out the androgen hormones that cause acne. If not consumed directly, flaxseeds oil may be topically applied for healthy hair, skin, and nails. The lignans and antioxidants in flaxseeds fight free radical damage by having an anti-ageing effect by providing hormonal balancing and cellular regeneration [3].

How to Include flaxseeds in Your Diet?

Flaxseeds have a rich nutty flavour that’s similar to sesame seeds. They’re versatile and can be added to a variety of foods and dishes. It should be noted that flaxseeds are best absorbed by the body when they are ground. 

Whole flaxseeds simply pass through your digestive tract without any nutrients being absorbed. Hence, it is recommended to consume ground flaxseeds. 

Flaxseeds can be roasted, ground, and then kept in an airtight container which should be stored in the refrigerator. Whole flaxseeds can be stored in an airtight container under room temperature for up to a year. Here are some ways you can incorporate flaxseeds into your diet:

  • Add them to smoothies and milkshakes.
  • Sprinkle flaxseed powder on your salads, curries, and soups.
  • Add flaxseed powder to baked goods such as bread, cake, or cookie batter.
  • You can simply mix flaxseed powder with water if you’re in a pinch for time.
  • Add ground flaxseeds to your morning oatmeal for a nutritious breakfast.
  • Make a simple but highly nutritious dessert by mixing ground flaxseeds with curd or yoghurt.
  • You can add flaxseed powder to your pancake batter.
  • Add ground flaxseeds to your sandwiches.

In Conclusion

Flaxseeds are a great and inexpensive source of nutrition. The effects of flaxseeds can be beneficial for a number of functions in the body. However, flaxseeds are not a miracle food and one must keep in mind to maintain a healthy diet in addition to a healthy lifestyle with proper sleep, adequate water, and proper exercise to live a healthy life.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375225/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152533/
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000728.htm
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3

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