Flaxseeds are tiny brown or gold seeds that come from the flax plant. They have a very mild, nutty flavor and are rich in fiber and a variety of other nutrients. Flaxseed is a source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research has found evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
In recent years, flax seed has become popular in the mainstream market. It can be found in a number of forms, including oils, oil capsules, whole seeds, ground seeds, and as an ingredient in breads, cereals, muffins, and breakfast bars. Since 80% of Americans may be deficient in the omega-3 essential fatty acids that flax provides, flax is one of the most important and most widely accepted of the herbal health foods.
A 1 ounce (3 tbsp) serving of flaxseeds contains:
Omega-3 (ALA) 6,338mg
Vitamin B1 31% RDA
Manganese 35% RDA
Magnesium 30% RDA
Phosphorus 19% RDA
Selenium 10% RDA
Also, flaxseeds contain a good amount of vitamin B6, Iron, potassium, copper and zinc.
Benefits of flaxseeds
Rich in omega-3
Flaxseeds are an ideal way for those who don’t eat sufficient oily fish to ensure they get enough omega-3. Ideally, buy the seeds whole and grind them in a blender to make the meal. Flaxseed meal can also be used as a binder or egg substitute in baked goods for people who are allergic to eggs. The seeds can be sprinkled on fruit, vegies, cereal and yoghurt, while flaxseed meal can be used in baking or to bulk out meat dishes. This way you increase your omega-3 levels and fibre intake at the same time.
Maybe the biggest flax seed benefits come from it’s ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help protect the lining of the digestive tract and maintain GI health. It has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation.
You can also take 1-3 tbsp of flax seed oil with 8 oz of carrot juice to help naturally relieve constipation.
Flax is also very high in soluble and insoluble fiber which can also improve digestive health and is one of the highest magnesium foods in the world.
Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contains about 5 g of fiber or 1/4 of the RDA. The fiber found in flaxseeds provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.
Flaxseeds may be useful as a part of a weight loss diet. They contain soluble fiber, which becomes highly sticky when mixed with water. This fiber has been shown to be effective at suppressing hunger and cravings, potentially promoting weight loss.
A study on weight loss diets showed that flaxseeds decreased inflammatory markers by 25–46%, compared to weight loss diets without them.
One of the other important elements of flaxseed oil is its high antioxidant content. Flaxseed oil is rich in plant sterols, also known as phytosterols. These act as very powerful antioxidants, which means that they can help prevent the damage that free radicals do to our healthy cells in various parts of the body, including turning them into cancerous cells. Furthermore, three of the lignans found in flaxseed oil have a direct impact on the hormonal balance in our body. That means that hormone-related cancers are far less likely to occur, since our bodies endocrine system is running smoothly.
Reduces food cravings
According to reports published in ’Journal of Nutrition’, walnuts and flaxseeds play a significant role in preventing obesity and supporting weight loss. With generous amounts of fiber and fat, flaxseeds offer you the feeling of satiation. As a most desired result, you stay away from overeating and become physically fit with your weight under control. In addition, flax seeds also contain ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) that plays a key role in reducing inflammation. Start adding a spoonful of flax seeds to your smoothies, salads or soups to have a remarkable change in your health.
High in Phytochemicals
Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances that tend to balance female hormones. Lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer. In addition, lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Safety and Side Effects
Flax seed is a wonderful food that can improve your health, but there are some cautions to using flax. Since it delivers a big fiber load to your diet, it is wise to begin with just a small amount in the diet and then increase it slow – or cramping and a laxative effect might occur. Flax oil is a highly unsaturated fat, which is good for your health but bad for storage purposes because it makes the oil prone to become rancid or oxidized prematurely if it is not stored correctly.
By using only whole flax, you can store the seeds in a cool place for up to a year, but once flax is ground or made into oil, it has a tendency to begin degrading – although it will keep for a few months. Protect flax “meal” (ground flaxseed) by storing in an airtight container away from heat, and store the oil in the refrigerator to be used within two weeks of opening. It also contains phytoestrogens and small trace amounts of cyanide, so it is important to not exceed the recommended maximum daily serving of flaxseed, which is two tablespoons.