Spotlight on: Flaxseed!
There is so much information available about the health benefits of flaxseed. It would be impossible to share it all with you, so I’ll just share some of the basics.
Basic Nutritional Info:
Flaxseed is low in cholesterol and sodium.
Flaxseed is a good source of:
- Dietary Fiber
(Information from nutritiondata.com)
Omega-3 and ALA:
Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid.
- Are used by the body to produce Series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules
- Can help reduce the inflammation that is a significant factor in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.
- Helps prevent excessive bone loss and bone turnover (the process of building up and breaking down bone, or replacing old bone with new bone) when you eat enough to balance the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. (excess omega-6 without enough omega-3 can cause excessive bone turnover)
- Produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or diabetic heart disease.
- Are needed to produce flexible cell membranes. Flexible cell membranes allow entrance of necessary nutrients while promoting the elimination of wastes. Flexible cell membranes are better able to respond to insulin and to absorb glucose than the stiff membranes, so they’re very important for those with diabetes. (Stiff membranes result from a diet high in saturated and/or hydrogenated (trans-) fats).
- Help protect colon cells from cancer-causing toxins and free radicals, leading to a reduced risk for colon cancer.
photo by mike fischer
Lignans are phytochemicals (health-protecting compounds from plants) found mostly in unrefined grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. Flaxseed contains from 75-800 times more lignans than any other plant source. Their structure is similar to that of human estrogen, and they can help balance hormone levels in the body. They have also been found to have strong antioxidant activity. (Antioxidants help protect our bodies and strengthen the immune system).
Research suggests that lignans may be helpful for:
- Prostate health
- Bone health
- Breast health
- Reducing symptoms of menopause
- Heart health
- Hair loss
- Decreasing inflammation
- Potential anti-cancer properties
- Individuals whose diets provide greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have lower blood pressure than those who consume less.
- Omega-3s from nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils-such as walnuts and flaxseed-had just as much impact on blood pressure as omega-3s from fish.
- In a study involving 40 patients with high cholesterol (greater than 240 mg/dL), daily consumption of 20 grams of ground flaxseed was compared to taking a statin drug (common high blood pressure drug). After 60 days, significant reductions were seen in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol-in both groups. Those receiving flaxseed did just as well as those given statin drugs!
- Flaxseed put the brakes on prostate tumor growth in men who were given 30 grams of flaxseed daily for a month before surgery to treat their prostate cancer. The 40 men taking flaxseed, either alone or along with a low-fat diet, were compared to 40 men only following a low-fat diet, and 40 men in a control group who did not alter or supplement their usual diet. Men who took flaxseed, as well as those who took flaxseed combined with a low-fat diet did the best.
- Researchers recruited 29 postmenopausal women who had suffered from at least 14 hot flashes each week for at least one month, but would not take estrogen because of a perceived increased risk of breast cancer. After taking 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of crushed flaxseed each day for six weeks, the frequency of hot flashes decreased 50%, and the overall hot flash score decreased an average 57% for the 21 women who completed the trial.
photo by g[wiz]
Ways to add Flaxseed to your diet:
- Sprinkle it on cereal or mix in with oatmeal
- Mix 1-2 Tbsp with water and drink it (not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to get it!)
- Sprinkle on top of salads or add to salad dressing
- Check my recipes category often, as I will be posting many recipes featuring flaxseed!
Recipes featuring Flaxseed:
Coconut Flax Veggie Wraps: Coming Soon!
Coconut Flax Crepes: Coming Soon!
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- Mango Tomatillo Salsa: This salsa will make you sing!
- Coconut Ice Cream with Berries: A perfectly healthy and delicious treat