Flaxseed: 12 Health Benefits of This Tiny Seed
If you haven't tried flaxseed yet in your daily diet then it's high time you must consider consuming them. These tiny yet powerful seeds have been around for thousands of years; today they are recognized more than ever for their powerful health benefits.
Flaxseeds have that typical nutty flavor and it is extremely versatile as they can be incorporated into almost every daily meal whether you sprinkle them in your smoothies, mix them into baking items, or even into burger patties. But before jumping to any conclusion, you should know what makes flaxseeds powerful.
What Are Flax Seeds?
Flax Seeds are tiny seeds from the North American flax plant scientifically recognized as Linum usitatissimum which means very useful and have been consumed for at least 6,000 years. They are also called linseeds or flaxseeds.
The flax plant which is about 2 feet tall was most likely first planted in Egypt, although it can be now found all over the world. Flaxseeds are accessible at health stores and supermarkets in several forms including oils, powder, pills, flour flaxseed non-dairy milk, and capsules.
Types Of Flax Seeds
There are only two flaxseeds, golden and brown flax seeds. The golden flax seeds present a subtle, and slightly nutty flavor. As for the brown seeds, they are similar in taste but much bolder. Golden flax seeds are grown in North and South Dakota, and contain less fat and omega-3s while brown flaxseeds are easily available in the market and are high in nutritional value.
Nutritional Composition Of Flax Seeds
Flax Seeds are high in nutritional value which makes them one of the most nutrient-dense foods. They are high in mineral, and fiber as well as contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. According to the USDA, one serving (two tablespoons) of whole/ground flaxseed contains about:
- Calories: 110
- Carbohydrates: 6 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 8.5 grams
- Fiber: 6 grams
- Manganese: 0.6 milligrams or 26% of Daily Value (DV)
- Thiamine: 0.4 milligram or 22% of DV
- Magnesium: 80 milligrams or 20% of DV
- Phosphorus: 132 milligrams or 14% of DV
- Copper: 0.2 milligrams or 12% of DV
- Selenium: 5 milligrams or 8% of DV
Benefits Of Flax Seeds
Flaxseed is consistently rising it's popularity among the health and wellness community. This nutritional powerhouse can contribute to positive health effects and provide an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and mineral iron.
We are aware that these tiny seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet which provide numerous health advantages, so what are the major benefits it provides in our body? Continue reading this article to learn about the 12 health benefits of flax seed.
1. Flax Seeds Are High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are good fats that have been known to promote heart health. Flaxseed is filled with Omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and happens to be the richest plant source of ALAs in the American diet. This makes it a great choice for people who follow vegan diets or are vegetarian.
The ALA found in flaxseed helps to decrease the incidence of coronary heart disease and hypertension. It also helps improve the platelet function as well as protect arterial function. Similarly, ALA is also proven to support the development of infants and children.
2. Flax Seeds Are High In Carbs And Fiber
One of the most important aspects of flaxseed is that it contains high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage gum is a gel-forming fiber that is water-soluble and moves through the gastrointestinal tract. Once consumed, it can keep food in the stomach from emptying too quickly into the small intestine.
Flaxseed also supports colon detoxification as they are low in carbohydrates but are extremely high in soluble and insoluble fiber which may also help with fat loss and reduce the craving for sugar. The ideal amount of fiber intake for adults is between 25-40 grams and with just two tablespoons of flaxseeds, they can provide about 20 percent to 25 percent of DV.
3. They May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
As mentioned earlier, flaxseeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent different types of cancer cells from growing. They also contain antioxidants called lignans, which may slow tumor growth by preventing them from forming new blood vessels.
A survey conducted in 2013 found a lower rate of breast cancer among females who included flaxseed in their daily diets, so there is a high chance of reducing the risk of breast cancer after menopause if consumed flaxseed on a regular basis.
4. Flax Seeds Improves Cholesterol Levels
Flaxseeds promote healthy hearts and arteries due to their anti-inflammatory properties, cholesterol-lowering effects, anti-oxidative capacity, and lipid-modulating properties. The soluble fiber present in flaxseed traps cholesterol and fat in the digestive system making it unable to absorb.
Similarly, they also extract bile that is made from cholesterol in the gallbladder, forcing the body to make more by using up excess cholesterol in the blood and helping to lower cholesterol levels. Research also found that including flaxseeds in your everyday diet can naturally lower bad cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of fat excreted through bowel movements.
5. Flax Seeds Can Manage Weight
These tiny yet powerful seeds may be helpful if you want to manage your weight by following a nutrient-dense diet. Flaxseeds are filled with soluble fiber, which becomes sticky when mixed with water. This fiber has been known effective at suppressing junk cravings and hunger potentially promoting weight loss.
Several research studies have also proven that consuming whole flaxseeds helps with significant reductions in body weight as well as waist measurement. Further, the review also found that including 30 grams of flaxseeds daily improved the body composition.
6. They Treats Menopause
Flaxseeds are beneficial for women going through menopause symptoms as these tiny seeds contain high concentrations of phytoestrogens called lignans. These plant-based properties have been shown to have a modulating effect on estrogen.
These powerful seeds gently and safely optimize estrogen levels without creating any adverse side effects during pre-menopause or menopause time. The daily intake of flaxseeds helps manages hot flushes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats as per several research and study. The consumption of flaxseed also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle by balancing hormone levels.
7. Flax Seeds Prevent Chronic Diseases
Along with their high amount of fats and fiber, flaxseeds are filled with health-protective antioxidants called polyphenols. This particular antioxidant act like a bodyguard for our cells and protects them from damage that could eventually lead to several chronic diseases including early aging and other heart-related disease.
In addition, flaxseed contains a lower ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids which has been linked to a lower risk of several chronic diseases. According to the Arthritis Research Center of America, the consumption of flaxseeds may help to ease some symptoms of arthritis.
8. They May Reduce Inflammation
The two main compounds found in flaxseeds, ALA and lignans may potentially reduce the inflammation that can cause certain illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and asthma. These essential compounds block the release of pro-inflammatory agents that may contribute to several inflammatory diseases.
The components of ALA have been found to decrease inflammatory reactions in the human body while lignans were found to decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines. Another well-known anti-inflammatories, Flavonoids reduce the inflammation that causes several health issues to human bodies.
9. Helps Make Skin And Hair Healthy
Flaxseeds are beneficial for both skin and hair health as they help to provide all essential nutrients, including fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, carotenoids, and polyphenols. Flaxseeds benefit the hair by making it shinier, stronger, and more resistant to damage while ALA fats found in the seeds nourish the hair and skin.
Symptoms such as acne, rosacea, dermatitis, and eczema can also be improved by consuming flaxseeds regularly. Flaxseed oil has been considered best to treat inflamed skin. It can also be mixed with other essential oils to moisturize the skin.
10. Flax Seeds Are Gluten Free
Flax Seeds are gluten-free so they should be considerably safe for patients with celiac and other gluten-related disorders. Gluten is naturally found in ingredients like barley, rye, and wheat. Some people are gluten intolerant, while others avoid it to reach their target weight.
Since flax seeds are free from gluten, you may incorporate them into your gluten-free diet without worrying much about the side effects. These seeds are also a common ingredient in several gluten-free baked items. However, always make sure to check the ingredient level before considering anything made from flaxseed contains no gluten.
11. Helps Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and various life-threatening problems. As per several surveys, the presence of ALA and lignans plays an important role in lowering blood pressure as they decrease the amount of fatty acid.
Similarly, one research review that those participants who consumed 30 grams of ground flaxseed every day for six months had lower blood pressure and also had a reduction in heart attack and stroke. These seeds are also a great source of potassium, a nutrient that can help to ease tension in blood vessel walls, which further helps to lower blood pressure.
12. Flax Seeds Are Great For Digestion
For those who suffer from indigestion and irregularity in bowel movement, these tiny seeds may play a key role in relieving constipation. These seeds contain high amounts of both soluble and nonsoluble fiber which is directly linked to good digestive health.
When consumed soluble fiber with adequate fluid, it helps to soften stool so it can easily pass through the digestive tract. The presence of insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool pushes waste through the gut more quickly and eases the constipation problem.
Ways Of Consuming Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are a great ingredient that is versatile and can easily blend in almost any food and provide a rich taste and texture to the food. There are several ways to add these powerful seeds into your daily diet, some of the ways include:
- By sprinkling ground flaxseeds on your morning cereal or yogurt.
- You can include flaxseed powder in pancakes to get a nutty taste.
- Adding the seeds to the smoothies of your choice for optimum protein boost.
- Sprinkling flaxseeds on top of a fruit salad.
- Mix the tiny seeds into granola
- Use flaxseed oil to make salad dressing or any other recipe.
- Can be included in any veggies.
- Baked into cookies, brownies, banana bread, or muffins.
How Much Flaxseed Should You Eat Per Day?
- Whole Flaxseed/Flaxseed Powder: 1 tablespoon
- Flaxseed Oil: 1-2 tablespoon
- Flaxseeds in the form of Capsules: 1200 to 3000 mg
According to the health expert, daily one to two tablespoons of seeds is advisable for adults to receive proper dietary flaxseed supplementation. You can also increase or decrease the consumption of flaxseeds depending on your goals or as long as you don't experience any side effects.
Potential Risk And Side Effects Of Flax Seeds
Apart from several benefits that flax seeds provide, there are a few cases where the doctors recommend caution as people tend to consume the seeds at an extreme level which may cause side effects like diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, nausea, etc. Some potential risks may include:
- Allergic Reaction
- Worsen Inflammation
- Imbalances The Hormones
- Unsafe During Pregnancy
- Disrupt Digestive Health
- Reactive With Other Medicines
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