8 Reasons to Make Flaxseeds Part of Your Diet
Get your daily dose of goodness with flaxseeds! These tiny seeds can help tackle cancer, aid weight loss, control cholesterol, and even battle diabetes. Rich in fiber, omega-3s, and lignans, they're a nutritious addition to any diet.
Flaxseeds have been in use for centuries. In fact, its botanical name, “Linum usitatissimum”, literally translates to “most useful” and rightly so.
Egyptians were one of the first people to make use of the flax crop. The flax fiber was used to make linen and then was shipped across the Mediterranean mainly to use as sails for ships. Later, the Romans also introduced linen manufacturing in a massive scale. Unfortunately, due to the decline of the empire and the emerging popularity of cheap cotton from the United States, linen production soon lost its significance and came to a standstill.
Today, flaxseeds have become more and more available in the market. Commonly known as Alsi, Tishi, Agasi and Ali vidai, nutritionists and scientists have, over the years, recorded multiple health benefits and nutrients that flaxseeds have to offer.
Nutrition in Every 100 Grams of Flaxseed
The complete nutrition table can be found here.
Listed below are 8 reasons to make flaxseeds an ideal part of your diet:
#1 Flaxseeds Help Tackle Cancer
Found in most plants around the world, lignans are micronutrients which are found 800 times more in flaxseeds. Acting as both antioxidants and weak phytoestrogens, flaxseed is found to hinder the growth of colon, breast, prostate and skin cancers. Research shows that due to lignans being able to replicate the function of estrogen, they tend to bind themselves to cell receptors, thereby preventing cancer cells from replicating themselves. Furthermore, antioxidant properties also help to decrease damage caused by free floating cancer radicals.
#2 Benefit of Flaxseeds for Weight Loss
Dieting? Looking to reduce weight? Flaxseeds can assist. Studies have been conducted which point out that flaxseed can decrease feelings of appetite and hunger significantly. Experts suggest this is due to the fiber content in the seeds which slow the digestion process and activate hormones that decrease the feeling of hunger.
#3 Getting Rid of High Blood Pressure Naturally
Over the years, hypertension is a condition that has become widespread. The European Society of Cardiology states that, according to the Great India BP Survey, an astonishing 180,000 adults were found to have high blood pressure in 2018.
Potassium is one nutrient that can be found excessively in flaxseeds. According to a very recent article published by NDTV, sodium can cause water imbalance in blood which results in blood pressure increase. Potassium, acting as a vasodilator, gets rid of this sodium via urine. The fiber content in flaxseeds aid by shielding the layer of cells which lie beside the blood vessels.
#4 Adios Excess Cholesterol!
Cholesterol is a substance used by all cells to make hormones, vitamin D and maintain cell membrane among the several other things it is required for. All the cholesterol needed is made by the body. However, excess unhealthy cholesterol can enter through saturated fats or trans fats .
As the amount of cholesterol intake increases, plaque accumulates in blood vessels which, in due course, obstruct the pathway of blood flow. This can become very dangerous because if the fat breaks and forms a clot, it could cause a heart attack. This is known as atherosclerosis.
Fibre and omega 3 are two components present in flaxseed which help to reduce cholesterol. Two separate articles from healthline.com outlines their respective functions. Fibre from the flaxseeds are bound to bile salts to be excreted. To replace these salts, cholesterol is extracted from the blood stream to the liver, in effect, lowering cholesterol levels.
Alpha-linolenic acid is an acid that is not produced by the body which needs to be taken from food. Animal studies have found that ALA helps in reducing the deposition of plaque in blood vessels; a large evaluation of over 250,000 people found that ALA causes a 14% decrease in heart disease risk.
It is recommended to grind the flaxseeds before intake to get the maximum benefits of ALA.
#5 Fiber Power – Prevention of Constipation and Regulation of Blood Sugars
Flaxseeds, as mentioned above, contain rich amounts of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber .
Soluble fibers assist in maintaining a soft bowel movement and reducing constipation by binding water inside the body to stools. On the other hand, insoluble fibers help in the regulation of blood sugars – preventing spikes in blood sugar levels – as they increase the contents inside the intestines and slow down the digestion pace.
#6 Flaxseeds Might Aid in Menopause Symptoms
Flaxseeds are particularly known for their high levels of lignans, which are plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects in the body. As a result, flaxseeds have been suggested to be helpful for managing menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
There is some scientific evidence to support this claim. A randomized, controlled trial published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2007 found that postmenopausal women who consumed 40 grams of ground flaxseeds daily for six weeks had a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes, compared to a control group.
It is worth noting that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of flaxseeds on menopause symptoms, and it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before making any dietary changes. However, incorporating flaxseeds into your diet as a source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans may be a simple and natural way to help manage menopause symptoms.
#7 Flaxseeds Could Assist to Battle Diabetes
Blood glucose regulation through the use of flaxseeds has already been written about in an earlier subsection. Natural regulation of glucose can help in battling diabetes.
Although results are shown to only weakly support test objectives, flaxseeds might offer an additional benefit for those with insulin resistance . The amount of antioxidants present in the seeds is said to improve insulin sensitivity and, therefore, slow the progress of diabetes. However, this is still in a majority research stage.
Flaxseed Benefits for Skin
Flaxseeds are known for a number of benefits in Ayurveda; a journal from the National Center of Biotechnology Information summarizes a number of these. This tradition regards flaxseed with properties such as ‘madhura’ (balances the skin’s pH level), ‘balya’ (improves elasticity of skin), ‘grahi’ (improves the moisture holding capacity of skin) and ‘vranahrit’ (wound healing) among others. Flaxseeds were also recommended for cough relieving and as an anti-inflammatory medicine.
Although flaxseeds have so many positive effects for the body, there are some safety measures that have to be kept in mind while consuming these seeds:
- Flaxseeds contain chemical compounds called cyanogenic glycosides which bind sulfur compounds to form thiocyanates. Extreme amounts of thiocyanates can cause damage to the thyroid gland. This should not be a problem for healthy individuals; however, for people with thyroid problems, it is best they avoid over consumption.
- The content of fiber in flaxseeds can cause digestive problems such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and nausea for those not used to the high intake in less time.
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding, health specialists recommend cautious intake of flaxseeds due to phytoestrogen. Consuming too much could lead to lower birth weight and disturbances in the development of the offspring’s reproductive system.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do flaxseeds come from?
Flaxseeds come from the flax plants which grow to be about 1.2 meters with thin, lean stems. They are cultivated all over the world with major production in countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Canada.
- What are the benefits of flaxseeds for hair?
Flaxseeds do have benefits for hair. Due to vitamins E and B, magnesium, manganese, copper and selenium, it offers nourishment for the scalp and hair strands. The omega 3 helps in hair re-growth.
- How much flaxseed can be consumed in a day?
The amount of flaxseed that can be consumed by a person varies on a case-to-case basis. In general, up to 5 tablespoons is alright for everyone.
- Where can I buy flaxseeds?
Flaxseeds can be bought in local stores and supermarkets. High quality flaxseeds are also available at Isha Life. So head over right now to get your own packet of flaxseeds!
Jurgens, T., et al. "Flaxseed oil and hot flashes." Obstetrics and gynecology, vol. 109, no. 3, 2007, pp. 418-424.