Flaxseed: 9 Health Benefits and How to Eat them
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Flaxseed is a versatile ingredient that may improve the flavour as well as the texture of practically any recipe. It has a flavour that is mild and nutty, and it has a texture that is crisp and crunchy.
This seed may be utilized in a variety of ways, one of which is by incorporating it into my daily smoothie. In addition to that, it is an outstanding addition to pancake batter, homemade vegetarian burgers, and even oats that are left to sit overnight.
In addition, it is rich in nutrients and is associated with a wide variety of positive effects.
The following is a list of 9 scientifically proven health advantages of flaxseed, as well as some simple techniques to improve your consumption of flaxseed.
1. Loaded with nutrients
One of the earliest known agricultural products is flaxseed. There are two varieties, brown and golden, and they are nutritionally equivalent to one another.
A single meal delivers a respectable quantity of protein, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to a number of essential vitamins and minerals.
There are two different types of omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in ground flaxseed.
Calories: 37 Carbs: 2 grammes
Fat: 3 grammes
Fiber: 2 grammes
Protein: 1.3 grammes
0.10% of the recommended daily allowance for thiamine (DV)
Copper accounts for 9% of the total DV.
8 percent of the daily value for manganese
Magnesium makes up 7% of the daily value.
Phosphorus makes about 4% of the daily value
3 percent of the daily value for selenium
3 percent of the daily value for zinc 2 percent of the daily value for vitamin B6
Iron makes about 2% of the daily value
2 percent of the daily value for folate
Thiamine, a B vitamin that is essential for proper cell function as well as the metabolism of energy, can be found in particularly high concentrations in flaxseed. It is also an excellent source of the mineral copper, which plays an important role in the formation of the brain, the maintenance of healthy immune systems, and the metabolism of iron.
Many essential nutrients, such as protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamine, and copper, can be found in sufficient quantities in flaxseed.
2. High in omega-3 fatty acids
Alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA, is a form of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for maintaining a healthy heart and may be found mostly in plant foods. Flaxseed is an excellent source of ALA.
ALA is one of the two essential fatty acids, which are fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own and so must get from the food that you consume.
Research conducted on animals suggests that the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed can help reduce inflammation and prevent cholesterol from becoming deposited in the blood arteries of the heart.
A recent study that involved 8,866 people found a link between increased consumption of ALA and lower levels of cholesterol, as well as a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, which is linked to narrowing of the arteries, and type 2 diabetes.
A decreased risk of stroke has also been associated with ALA, according to a number of studies. What’s more, results from a meta-analysis of 34 separate trials showed that higher intakes of ALA were related to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
The omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA can be found in high concentrations in flaxseed, which has been shown to be beneficial for the health of the heart.
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3. May help protect against cancer
Flaxseed contains a high concentration of lignans, which are chemicals found in plants that have been investigated for their powerful anti-cancer effects. It’s interesting to note that compared to other plant meals, this seed has 75–800 times the amount of lignans.
Flaxseed consumption has been linked in some research to a reduced risk of breast cancer, particularly for women who have gone through menopause.
Studies on animals and in test tubes have also shown that flaxseed can reduce the risk of colorectal, skin, blood, and lung cancer.
Keep in mind that there is a need for additional study on humans.
Lignans are a type of nutrient found in flaxseed, and there is some evidence that they can inhibit the formation of cancer. A greater amount of research is required, however, some studies suggest that consuming this diet may reduce the chance of developing multiple types of cancer.
4. Rich in fiber
Ground flaxseed has 2 grammes of fibre in just 1 tablespoon (7 grammes), which is approximately 5 percent and 8 percent of the daily recommended intake for men and women, respectively.
In addition, flaxseed includes two distinct types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, both of which are digested by the bacteria that live in your intestines, helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract and promoting regular bowel movements.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to the stool, which may prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Soluble fibre, on the other hand, absorbs water in your intestines and slows down digestion, which may help regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Soluble fibre may also help lower blood pressure.
Because flaxseed contains a significant amount of fibre despite its small size, it has the potential to improve digestive health and facilitate regular bowel movements.
5. May lower cholesterol levels
There is some evidence that eating flaxseed can help decrease cholesterol levels.
Consuming 4 tablespoons (30 grammes) of milled flaxseed per day was shown to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol by 15 percent in people with peripheral artery disease who participated in a trial that was conducted over the course of one month.
A study that lasted for 12 weeks and involved 112 patients who had high blood pressure came to similar conclusions. The researchers reported that eating 4 tablespoons (or 30 grammes) of flaxseed per day resulted in significant decreases in body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol, and blood pressure.
It is possible that the fibre included in flaxseed is responsible for these effects because it binds to bile salts before being eliminated from the body. Cholesterol is drawn from your blood and into your liver in order to replenish these bile salts, which results in reduced levels of cholesterol.
The high fibre content of flaxseed may assist in lowering cholesterol levels and improving the health of the heart.
6. May reduce blood pressure
The ability of flaxseed to bring about a reduction in one’s blood pressure is well-known.
The top and bottom numbers on a reading, respectively, are referred to as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. A review of 15 research indicated that supplementing with flaxseed products, particularly flaxseed powder, may considerably lower levels of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Those who suffer from hypertension may benefit significantly from consuming this seed. In point of fact, those with high blood pressure benefited from a reduction in their blood pressure when they took daily doses of flaxseed equivalent to four tablespoons (thirty grammes).
In addition, a comprehensive analysis of 11 separate research found that consuming flaxseed on a regular basis for a period of at least three months may result in a 2 mmHg reduction in blood pressure.
Even though this may not seem like a big deal, studies have shown that even a slight decrease in blood pressure, by only 2 millimetres of mercury, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by 14 and 6 percent, respectively.
Flaxseed may be of particular benefit to individuals who have high blood pressure because it has the potential to help reduce this indicator of the health of the heart.
7. May stabilize your blood sugar levels
It is possible that flaxseed will increase blood sugar control and help to normalise blood sugar levels.
A meta-analysis of 25 separate research suggests that eating whole flaxseeds may lower blood sugar levels and protect against insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a disorder that makes it difficult for the body to efficiently regulate blood sugar levels.
It is possible that the presence of soluble fibre in this seed is responsible for the action of decreasing blood sugar. According to research, soluble fibre can lessen the rate at which the body absorbs sugar, which in turn may result in lower blood sugar levels.
Because of this, people who have type 2 diabetes may benefit especially from consuming flaxseed.
Keep in mind that the benefits of flaxseed for blood sugar control apply more so to whole flaxseed as opposed to flaxseed oil if you want to reap the most of these benefits. This is due to the absence of fibre in flaxseed oil.
Because it contains soluble fibre, flaxseed may be able to bring blood sugar levels down. Therefore, including it in your diet is something that is advantageous if you have type 2 diabetes.
8. May help you manage your weight
Several research point to flaxseed as a potential benefit in controlling one’s weight.
According to the findings of an older study, consuming a beverage made with flax fibre tablets that included a total of 2.5 grammes of soluble fibre was effective in reducing sensations of hunger as well as overall appetite.
This is likely due to the fact that soluble fibre slows digestion and enhances feelings of fullness, which may be particularly beneficial if you are attempting to reduce your body fat percentage.
According to the findings of a comprehensive analysis of 45 separate trials, supplementation with flaxseed led to significant decreases in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and abdominal fat.
It’s possible that flaxseed will help you feel fuller for longer, which will make it easier to control your weight.
9. Versatile and easy to use
The utilisation of flaxseed and flaxseed oil is very simple, and they may both be included into a wide variety of culinary preparations. Increasing your consumption can be done in a variety of easy methods, including the following:
Mix some ground flaxseed with water or sprinkle some of it on top of your smoothie.
Instead of using salad dressing, try using flaxseed oil to dress your fresh salads.
Flaxseed meal, when sprinkled on hot or cold cereal, adds both fibre and flavour without any added fat.
Combine ground flaxseed with the yoghurt of your choice.
By adding ground flaxseed to baked items like bread, muffins, and cookies, you may make them more nutritious.
For a straightforward alternative to eggs, simply mix ground flaxseed with a little bit of water.
The next time you fire up the grill, try mixing ground flaxseed with ground meat or vegetable patties.
It is simple and quick to include flaxseed into a wide variety of foods, including yoghurt, salad, smoothies, baked products, and even more diverse fare.
Tips for adding flaxseed to your diet
The following are some suggestions for incorporating these little seeds into your regular eating routine.
Consume ground seeds instead of whole
When compared to whole flaxseeds, ground flaxseed is significantly simpler for the digestive system to process. This is due, in part, to the fact that your digestive tract is unable to break down the tough outer shell that entire seeds have.
Having said that, you can still purchase flaxseed in its complete form, grind it using a coffee grinder, and then keep the ground flaxseed in a container that is airtight for quick access.
What about flaxseed oil?
In order to successfully extract the oil from the flaxseeds, a method known as cold pressing is typically utilised during the production of flaxseed oil.
Due to the fact that this oil is easily damaged by heat and light, it is recommended that it be kept in bottles made of dark glass and kept in a cold, dark location such as a kitchen cupboard.
Flaxseed oil should not be used for high-heat cooking methods such as frying since several of the nutrients it contains become unstable when exposed to heat. However, a few studies have shown that mild stir-frying at temperatures up to 177 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) does not result in any degradation of the oil’s quality.
It is important to keep in mind that flaxseed oil has a higher concentration of ALA than ground flaxseed. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed (which is 7 grammes) has 1.6 grammes of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), while one tablespoon of flaxseed oil (which is 14 grammes) has approximately 7 grammes.
However, unlike its oil, flaxseed has a wide variety of other healthful elements, including fibre, none of which can be found in flaxseed oil. Ground flaxseed is the form of this food that offers the most potential for promoting health and wellbeing.
How much do you need?
Only one tablespoon (7 grammes) of ground flaxseed per day was found to produce many of the beneficial effects on health that were observed in the research described above.
However, in order to prevent consuming an excessive amount of fibre, it is recommended that you consume no more than four to five tablespoons (28 to 35 grammes) of flaxseed per day and that you do so as a component of a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
The flaxseed that has been ground up offers the largest number of health benefits. If you use flaxseed oil in your cooking, keep in mind that it needs to be stored in a cool, dark place and that it should only be heated to moderate temperatures.
Are there any risks to eating flaxseed?
There are some potential drawbacks of eating flaxseed, despite the fact that it is related to many positive effects on health.
First things first, keep in mind that ground flaxseed is strong in fibre. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed has 2 grammes of fibre (7 grams). Even though fibre is good for you, eating too much of it too quickly can cause digestive problems such as bloating and gas.
Although they are uncommon, flaxseed and flaxseed oil have also been linked to reports of allergic responses.
In addition, flaxseed may interact with a number of drugs, including those used to thin the blood and medications that reduce the risk of blood clots.
Before incorporating flaxseed into their diet, those who are currently on hormone therapy or who have hormone-sensitive cancers should consult with their primary care physician about the potential for specific flaxseed chemicals to mimic the effects of oestrogen. Additionally, if you are pregnant or nursing, it is strongly recommended that you use extreme caution.
Because of the high fibre content of flaxseed, consuming excessive amounts of this food might lead to stomach problems. Additionally, there is a remote possibility that it could cause an allergic reaction and that it could interact negatively with some medications.
All of the nutrients included in flaxseed, including as omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and useful plant compounds like lignans, have the potential to improve one’s health in a variety of ways. Flaxseed is an excellent source of these nutrients.
This little seed has the potential to promote digestive health, defend against certain types of cancer, maintain healthy levels of blood sugar, and reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
It may be used in a variety of ways, is delicious, and is simple to incorporate into a diet.