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Flaxseed

Flax products are being touted as a super food, but what are the real benefits of this plant? Boxes in the grocery or local health food stores have labels advertising the advantages of their products made with flax, such as heart benefits and weight loss help, and it can be confusing what nutritional returns flax actually provides.   

How to Buy Flaxseed

Flaxseed can come in the whole seed form, or in a ground seed form.  It isn’t very expensive maybe $5 or $6 a bag. Most groceries stores should be carrying this seed by now.

How to Use Flaxseed

The best way to use flaxseed is to buy it whole and grind it in your coffee grinder. Then put the ground flaxseed in an air tight container and store it in your cupboard or fridge. The rest of the whole flaxseed you didn’t grind should go into a container and stored in the cupboard.

Easiest way to consume the ground Flaxseed is put a heaping tablespoon on your cereal every morning (everyday) to get maximum benefits. The seed form can be baked into bread or sprinkled over salads. The ground form can be added to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, and even mixed with water to replace eggs in certain recipes. 

3 Important Nutrient Benefits in Flaxseed

Dietary fiber

It has both soluble and insoluble fiber when it is ground. Fiber is known to regulate the body’s digestive health and processes.

Benefits - This is why flaxseed may be recommended as a natural remedy for constipation. Fiber may also reduce harmful cholesterols, therefore flaxseed is sometimes recommended for those battling high cholesterol. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed equals 16% of your daily fiber intake.

Lignans

Another benefit is a group of chemical compounds called “lignans.” Many different seeds, fruits, and vegetables have lignans, but flaxseed has the highest amount found in any plant source. They are Antioxidants that may also support the immune system and balancing hormone levels in the body. (1)

Benefits - According to The American Cancer Society, lignans can act as an anti-estrogen, therefore are being studied for their possible role in preventing estrogen-dependent cancers. This is why many flax products may claim a possible reduction in the likelihood of cancer, or promote women’s health. 

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid, and is listed in the essential fatty acids by the USDA because these acids are not produced naturally by the body and must be acquired through diet. 

Benefits - The American Heart Association recommends eating foods with ALA due to some epidemiological studies suggesting that ALA benefits people at risk for coronary heart disease. It may reduce inflammation which effect people with Parkinson’s, Asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

Flaxseed Oil

You can buy Flaxseed oil in capsules or soft gels and take as a daily supplement.  Flaxseed oil does not contain significant sources of soluble fiber or lignans, but it does contain the ALA.  Lignans are sometimes added to the oil after production for additional benefits.

Possible Side Effects

Like everything you take there could be side effects if not taken in moderation. They are increased bowel movements, gas, bloating, diarrhea and nausea. (2) Most people will not have any problems taking it.

Flaxseed Research

Many people take this as a nutritional supplement to get their required amount of essential fatty acids.  There are also many claims that flaxseed oil increases metabolism, promotes hair and nail growth, and eliminates depression; however, the studies to corroborate these claims are ongoing and somewhat inconclusive.

It is also important to note that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements under the same stipulations as it does prescription drugs, so a doctor should always be consulted before consumption of flaxseed products. 

Conclusion

The wholesome attributes of flaxseed and flaxseed oil are undeniable such as fiber, lignans, and omega-3 acids such as ALA. As epidemiological studies continue, hopefully the healthful benefits of flaxseed will become clearer and more concise. Preliminary studies indicate positive effects on heart health, cholesterol, and some cancers.    

Reference

  1. Lignans for Life -  https://www.lignans.net/health-benefits.html
  2. Flaxseed - https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-991/flaxseed 

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Spectrum Essentials Organic Whole Premium Flaxseed - 15 oz.

Spectrum Essentials Organic Whole Premium Flaxseed - 15 oz.

Dietary Supplement: Omega-3 & Lignans 2.9 Omega-3 per Serving. Great Nutty Taste. 3g Dietary Fiber per Serving. Rich in Omega-3 (ALA) Fatty Acids. 98g Lignans per Serving. USDA Organic Non-GMO Project Verified. Flushed with an Inert Gas & Airtight. Sealed for Freshness.




Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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