What are Flaxseeds Good For?
You may eat flaxseeds in your bread, cereal, and even in your yogurt. You’ve heard that flaxseeds are good for you, but what exactly can they do for you? How do flaxseeds benefit your health? Keep reading to find out more about the many health benefits of adding flaxseeds to your diet.
What Are Flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and antioxidants. It also contains healthy fats like omega-3s and protein. For centuries, people have known the unparalleled health benefits of eating flaxseeds. The ancient Egyptians were known to cultivate flaxseeds thousands of years ago. Flaxseeds are also known as linseed!
Flaxseeds contain protein, carbs, fiber, monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fats, and vitamins B1 and B6, along with other nutrients. They also contain linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid. Because of their natural composition and richness in healthy nutrients, flaxseeds carry a number of health benefits.
Flaxseeds are also a great source of protein. If you are looking for a plant-based source of protein, flaxseeds just might be it!
Flaxseed Health Benefits
There are more and more health benefits being associated with the consumption of flaxseeds. This natural plant-based food can be a game-changer for many people. Here are just a few of the health benefits of eating flaxseeds:
Flaxseeds, though tiny, pack quite a nutritional punch. They are very high in omega-3s per serving. Omega-3s have many health benefits, like helping with fetal brain development, lowering risk factors for heart disease, and even improving eye health. Omega-3s have also been linked to fighting depression and decreasing the symptoms of ADHD in children.
Rich Source of Lignans
Flaxseeds are rich in lignans – a plant-based compound that contains both antioxidants and estrogen. These properties are known to reduce cancer risk. In fact, in a Canadian study, women who consumed flaxseed regularly were found to have an 18% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
In addition to reducing the risk of cancer, flaxseeds are also linked with lower cholesterol and your blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure, lowering “bad cholesterol,”and increasing “good cholesterol,” flaxseeds may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
High Fiber Content
Flaxseeds are very high in fiber, especially per serving. There is as much as 3g of fiber per tablespoon. Adding in anywhere from one to three tablespoons of flax per day, depending on your current bowel schedule, can significantly benefit your digestive health.
Blood Sugar Control
There is some evidence to suggest that flaxseeds may help individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes. Preliminary studies have shown that adding flaxseeds to your diet can help you to control your blood sugar levels by slowing down the release of sugar into the blood.
Flaxseeds have been linked to appetite control. When added to a beverage, in particular, flaxseeds have been linked to reducing hunger. Flaxseeds in your diet can make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, and also influence appetite. This means that flaxseeds can suppress your body’s hunger mechanism.
Plus, flaxseeds – as previously stated – can also improve your digestive health. This can also help you manage your weight more effectively.
Possible Health Benefits
Studies have not yet been performed, but medical experts have reason to believe that flaxseeds may also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer, metabolic syndrome, and even asthma. Studies are currently underway.
Flaxseeds are currently being studied in relation to Parkinson’s disease. Flaxseeds are thought to affect inflammatory conditions, such as Parkinson’s. The full effect of flaxseeds on Parkinson’s and other inflammatory diseases remain unconfirmed.
There are many different ways to enjoy flaxseeds, besides in their original seed form. Here are some other options to try:
- Flaxseed Milk– Flaxseed milk is lower in sugar and calories than other plant-based milk substitutes. You can find it already made, or find a number of flaxseed recipes online to make your own flaxseed milk at home.
- Ground Flaxseed– The ground form of flaxseed is very easy to add to any recipe, especially if you are using flaxseed as a substitute for another ingredient. The benefit of ground flaxseed is that it is much easier on the digestive system and is a significantly more absorbable form of flax than its whole form counterpart. Ground flaxseed is also known as flaxseed meal or milled flaxseed.
- Flaxseed Oil– Extracted during a cold-press process, flaxseed oil is a healthy alternative, though it is not recommended for high-temperature cooking. Stick to eating it raw to be safe.
Ground Flaxseeds vs. Whole Flaxseeds
Health experts and nutritionists tend to recommend ground flaxseed over whole flaxseeds. Ground flaxseeds are easier on the digestive system and is more easily absorbed. Whole flaxseeds tend to float through the digestive system in their original state, with much more difficulty breaking down.
How to Eat Flaxseeds
How can you add more flaxseeds to your diet? Luckily, there are loads of ways to enjoy flaxseeds – one of the most versatile superfoods around.
- Breakfast– You can easily mix flaxseeds into your breakfast smoothie, cereal, or oatmeal. Whole flaxseeds are also a delicious ingredient to add to your homemade bread recipes if you are simply looking for that seedy texture
- Snacks– Added to yogurt and smoothies, flaxseeds can transform any snack into a super healthy and filling meal!
- Condiments– Ground flaxseeds are virtually tasteless. It’s very easy to add some into your go-to sauces like mayonnaise or mustard.
- Baked Goods– Ground flaxseeds can also be used in a number of baking recipes. Bake flax into your cookies, muffins, and even cakes. You won’t even taste the difference!
Flaxseeds and Seasonal Allergies
Because they are high in selenium, flaxseeds are thought to have a positive effect on controlling seasonal allergies. Preliminary studies show eating more flaxseed could help keep seasonal allergies – and their uncomfortable symptoms – at bay!
Flaxseeds and Menopause
Ground flaxseed, specifically (not whole or in oil form), are considered to help reduce some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats may be less severe, with an increased flaxseed consumption.
Flaxseeds and Children
Children can also benefit from the various health benefits of consuming flaxseeds!
It’s safest to adhere to the doctor’s recommendations when it comes to flaxseed dosage for small children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently recommends no more than 500mg for children under the age of one, while children ages 1 to 8 are advised not to consume more than 700mg.
Chia Seeds vs. Flaxseeds
Both chia seeds and flaxseeds have many proven health benefits, but what is the difference between them? Both chia seeds and flaxseeds are high in protein, fiber, and iron. They have many healthy properties and provide omega-3s, as well as other healthy fats.
Chia seeds are linked to reducing cardiovascular disease and its associated risk factors. Flaxseeds are linked to reducing cancer risk and reducing the body’s level of estrogen, which can be the root cause of some very uncomfortable menstrual symptoms.
In short, both chia seeds and flaxseed have many health benefits. Adding both to your diet may be a good health decision for you.
How to Use Flaxseeds in a Recipe
Ideally, you want to use flaxseeds to replace oil, butter, or other forms of fat. This will keep your recipes healthier and make it easy for you to squeeze in some more fiber.
Flaxseed for Men
Flaxseed may have some adverse effects on men, especially as they age. Testosterone levels tend to decrease with age and flaxseeds have been linked with lowering testosterone levels since it has estrogen properties.
To avoid sexual complications, it may be best to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before switching to a diet that is higher in flaxseed.
Flaxseed Side Effects
The main concern with flaxseeds is overconsumption which can lead to constipation or other gastrointestinal problems. There are questions regarding flaxseed safety in pregnant and nursing women as well as questions regarding it’s safety for consumption in its raw form. The more studies are done, the closer we will get to obtaining these answers
Unless you suffer from health conditions like Celiac disease, blood diseases, or any other health complications – especially digestive complications – flaxseeds are most likely safe for consumption. Seek advice from your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns.
Flaxseed Medical Interactions
WebMD classifies flaxseeds as ‘moderate interaction.’ This means that it may interact with several medications, and individuals should exercise caution when consuming it. If you take medicines for diabetes or anticoagulants, flaxseed may not be right for you. In fact, it could possibly disrupt your medication, reduce its efficacy, or lead to complications.
Flaxseed may also interact with birth control or hormone-related medications. If you are meeting with a new healthcare provider, be sure to offer your complete medical history and medication history so that your provider can make a properly informed decision on your behalf.
As a natural superfood, flaxseeds have a lot to offer, and just about everyone should be consuming more of them. Seek advice from your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns.