I write frequently about the health benefits of flaxseed because they are such a great source of omega-3 fats (and our body does not produce omega-3’s, we have to get them via our food and supplements), but many still have not embraced this wonderful little superfood, so here are the 7 best benefits:
- Powerful Little Lignans – flaxseed is broken down by your body into chemicals called lignans, which are similar to the hormone estrogen. At first blush, if you have estrogen receptor positive breast cancer this might seem like a bad thing but what seems to occur is that lignans compete with estrogen for a part in certain chemical reactions. As a result, natural estrogens seem to become less powerful in the body. Some researchers believe that lignans may be able to slow down the progress of certain breast cancers and other types of cancers that need estrogen to thrive. Additionally, lignans do not appear to interfere with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
- Fiber – flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber which is lacking in the average diet. They can assist with constipation.
- Natural anti-inflammatory – two components in flaxseed, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans, reduce inflammation in the body, making it an important nutrient for conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and even asthma. Women who have tender breasts just prior to menstruation often obtain good benefits and relief from taking flaxseed.
- Cardiovascular health – again due to the lignans, which have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%, flaxseed also seems to help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Blood sugar – preliminary research suggests that the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).
- Hot flashes – a 2007 study of menopausal women, reported that 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed mixed with juice, cereal, or yogurt two times daily cut their hot flashes in half and reduced the intensity of hot flashes by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week. It doesn’t work for everyone – there are a lot of other factors involved, but give it a try if you’re suffering from hot flashes.
- Weight loss – taking 1-2 tbsp of flaxseed before a meal can make you feel less hungry and make it easier to cut back on what you eat.
How Much Do We Need and Best Ways To Get It
So how much flaxseed is recommended? 1-2 tbsp per day is sufficient to get great benefits. You can mix it in juice, sprinkle it on cereal or yogurt, it’s delicious sprinkled on a salad, you can reduce some of the white flour in cakes or muffins or breads and replace that with flaxseed, you can tuck it into dishes like casseroles, and even sprinkle it inside a sandwich. I sometimes apply flaxseed oil on patches of dry skin – mixed with other oils like almond and avocado and essential oils – after all, our skin absorbs nutrients just like a sponge!
It’s best not to eat the seeds whole as the hard shell of the seed protects the oil inside pretty well, they are likely to just pass through you undigested. The best way to obtain the benefits of flaxseed is to grind the seed yourself in small amounts – using a small coffee grinder – and then store the meal in the freezer.
A Delicious Source
I wanted to share with you a great product that has some nice health benefits. I’m not affiliated with the company in any way, nor will I benefit from the recommendations – I just like to give out kudos to companies when they make great products.
Linwoods are producing a really great ground flaxseed product in lots of different flavors – the flaxseed and goji berry combination was my favorite but they also have a flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seed and goji combo that is pretty great. Their ground hemp seed meal is also nice.
Flaxseed products can tend to taste a bit more like oily cardboard that anything you’d like to sprinkle on yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, etc., but this is truly yummy. It’s nutty and full of flavor and the goji berries (high on my list of anti-cancer fruits) give it a nice zing.
Linwood’s products are available at Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Shaws and Hyvee stores around the nation.
My other articles on flaxseed benefits: Flaxseed Oil Enhances Effect Of Herceptin Against Her2+ Breast Cancer , Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Improve Chemotherapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer
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