The Health Benefits of Flax Seeds

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The Health Benefits of Flax Seeds | Real Food RN

Flax seeds have been around for a long time…a very long time. They were grown in ancient Babylon, and medieval emperor Charlemagne was such a flax seed devotee that he passed a law making it compulsory for his subjects to eat them!

Scientists are now saying that Charlemagne was right—flax seeds are a true superfood!

What are Flax Seeds?

Flax seeds are also known as linseeds and come from the flax plant (also grown to make linen). They look a little bit like pointy sesame seeds and come in golden or warm brown colors. You can buy them as whole seeds, crushed, or as an oil.

Why Are Flax Seeds Good for You?

Flax seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition. Each tiny seed is crammed with protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

The primary nutritional value comes from the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and plant compounds known as lignans. Lignans contain unique fiber-linked polyphenols. You may not have heard of lignans, but what this all boils down to is that they contain antioxidants and estrogen properties up to 800 times more concentrated than other plant foods. The lignans in flax seeds are packed full of antioxidants that reduce free radical damage. In other words, flax seeds are dynamos for balancing hormones, fighting premature aging, and regenerating cells.

Flax seeds are one of nature’s highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Great news if you’re a vegetarian or don’t care for fish. Omega-3 has excellent anti-inflammatory properties, significantly reducing C-reactive protein inflammation markers in research study participants. If you suffer from GI issues and suspect inflammation in your gut lining, flax seeds are a must to include in your diet!

Flax seeds other superpower is its fiber, with just one tablespoon of seeds containing three grams of fiber, which equates to around 10% of your daily recommended fiber intake. Flax seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is good news for your gut biome.

What Health Benefits Do Flax Seeds Have?

As well as being a perfect package of vitamins and minerals, flax seed’s high fiber and low carbohydrate content make them the ideal diet addition for a healthy digestive system, normal blood sugar levels, and balanced cholesterol levels. Flax seeds are also excellent for weight loss, as their high protein and fiber keep you feeling fuller longer.

The omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds make it a superfood for heart health, helping lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost good HDL cholesterol. Flax seed’s high levels of lignans and manganese are great for strengthening your arteries, blood, and bones. And if that’s not enough, they work like magic to stave off arterial plaque, which reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as osteoporosis and anemia.

As a bonus, if you’re suffering from menopausal symptoms, the lignans contained in flax seeds act as phytoestrogens (plant nutrients,) which can help reduce hot flashes.

Recent research has supported the role of flax seeds as a source of alpha-linolenic acid in combating cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

How Should You Eat Flax Seeds?

It’s easy to include flax seeds in your regular diet. While it’s fine to sprinkle whole flax seeds over your salads, nutritionists advise that to get the most nutritional benefits, you should use ground or chipped flax seeds, or flax seed oil. This is because your digestive system can’t break down whole flax seeds easily. You can grind your flax seeds at home or buy them ready ground from your grocery or health food store. Store your flax seeds in a cool dark place, or you can freeze them.

You can add ground flax seeds to your regular baked goods recipes. They’re tasty in muffins, pancakes, bread, cakes, cookies or biscuits.

Add a spoonful to your breakfast smoothie, or you can even buy flax seed milk for your smoothies or hot beverages.

Flaxseed oil goes great in salad dressings and sauces.

You can also add flax seeds to your regular nut and seed mixes like trail mix, granola, muesli, and oatmeal. I love to sprinkle some on top of my afternoon yogurt.

Are Flax Seeds Safe to Eat?

Flax seeds have fantastic health benefits when eaten in moderation, between 1 and 5 tablespoons a day. You should be careful not to take large amounts of flaxseed oil as it can cause diarrhea.

If you have any chronic health conditions or take regular medication, you should consult your health practitioner before making any change to your diet.

You should not consume large amounts of flax seeds or flax seed oil if you have low blood pressure, thin blood, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Flax seeds also contain phytic acid which may make it more difficult for your body to absorb iron, so if you suffer from low iron levels, you should spread your flax seed consumption across different meals and snacks.

Men and pregnant women should also be aware of the effect of flax seed’s phytoestrogens, although this would only be problematic if you were eating large amounts of flax seeds.

Flax seeds are an excellent addition to your diet, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. They are versatile and easy to eat and have many potential health benefits.

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The Health Benefits of Flax Seeds | Real Food RN

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Hi! I'm Kate.

Registered Nurse. Mom. Real Foodie.

Welcome to Real Food RN! A blog with the mission to empower you to live your healthiest life possible, starting today.

 

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I am an RN, not an MD. The information on this blog is not intended to be taken as medical advice. The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. You can find out more in my Terms of Use & Disclosure and Privacy Policy.