One of the first cultivated “superfoods” that have been consumed for over 6000 years are flax seeds. Why is it one of the most popular “superfoods” and what does it do for you? Flax seeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (although not the same type that fish, such as salmon, do) along with antioxidant substances called lignans that help promote hormonal balance in addition to several other benefits of flax seed.
Flax seed, also called linseed, is the seed of flax which we all know from linen fabric. They can be eaten whole or milled. Benefits of flax seed include helping improve digestion, skin, cardiovascular health, cholesterol and hormone balance while fighting cancer and even sugar cravings — and that’s just the beginning!
Top 10 Benefits of Flax Seed
- High in Fibre but low in Carbohydrates
Flax is low in carbohydrates but extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, which means it also supports colon detoxification, may help with fat loss and can reduce sugar cravings. Most adults should aim to consume between 25–40 grams of fibre from high-fibre foods daily. Eating just two tablespoons of flax seeds per day will provide about 20 percent to 25 percent of your fibre needs.
- High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We hear a lot about the health benefits of fish oil and omega-3 fats lately, which is one reason why flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds have become known for their anti-inflammatory effects. And that is great as our body is not able to make these fatty acids itself so it needs to come from what we eat. They are essential for our health and especially for the brain.
- Helps make Skin and Hair healthy
Why is flax seed good for your hair? Flax seeds benefits for hair include making it shinier, stronger and more resistant to damage. The ALA fats in flax seeds also benefits the skin by providing essential fatty acids as well as B vitamins, which can help reduce dryness and flakiness. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea and eczema. The same benefits also apply to eye health, as flax can help reduce dry eye syndrome due to its lubricating effects.
- Helps lower Cholesterol
A study found that adding flaxseeds into your diet can naturally reduce cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of fat excreted through bowel movements. The soluble fibre content of flaxseed traps fat and cholesterol in the digestive system so it’s unable to be absorbed. Soluble flax fibre also traps bile, which is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder. The bile is then excreted through the digestive system, forcing the body to make more, using up excess cholesterol in the blood and therefore lowering cholesterol.
Using flax is a great way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains in recipes. Grains, especially those containing gluten, can be hard to digest for many people, but flax is usually easily metabolized and also anti-inflammatory.
- High in Antioxidants (Lignans)
One of the greatest benefits of flax seed is that it’s packed with antioxidants, which help reduce free radical damage, therefore flax has anti-aging, hormonal-balancing and cellular-regenerating effects. They are found in unprocessed plant foods, including seeds, whole-grains, beans, berries and nuts. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor gut health, smoking, antibiotics and obesity, all affect circulating lignan levels in the body, which is why a nutrient-dense diet is important for restoring levels.
- Supports Digestive Health
One of the most well-researched benefits of flax seed is its ability to promote digestive health. The ALA in flax can help reduce inflammation and protect the lining of the GI tract. Flax seed has been shown to be beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease and other digestive ailments. Plus, it promotes beneficial gut flora even in people with “normal” digestive systems.
- May help prevent Cancer
As part of a healthy diet, flax seeds may be able to help prevent certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer.
The lignans found in flax seeds can be converted by intestinal bacteria into enterolactone and enterodiol (types of oestrogens), which is believed to be how flax naturally helps balance hormones. Balanced hormones (meaning not too little or too much oestrogen and progesterone) can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other problems in women. For similar reasons, another study found that the lignans in flax seeds may also reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
- May help with Weight Loss
Since flax is full of healthy fats and fibre, it helps you feel satisfied for longer. This means you may end up eating fewer calories overall, which may lead to weight loss. The fats in flaxseed may also help reduce inflammation and help with hormonal balance, which might be standing in the way of you losing weight.
- Helps decrease Menopausal and Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms
Lignans found in the flax seed have been shown to have many benefits for menopausal women. In fact, flax seed can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy in some cases or as a complementary approach to balancing hormones due to the estrogenic properties that lignans have. Due to flax’s ability to balance oestrogen, flax seeds may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help menstruating women by helping to maintain cycle regularity.
Although flax seed is very healthy for you, make sure you don’t have more than 10-45 grams a day. Ideally buy the organic, whole flax seed and grind it in a coffee grinder or in your house hold machine.
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