Flaxseed health benefits,nutritional content and side-effects

In the recent years, dieticians and health experts have started recommending flaxseeds in your diet. Do you know why?

How can you get flax nutrition from your diet? Where can you get flaxseeds from?

So many questions must be crossing your mind ever since you came to know about this miracle seed.

Here’s the guidance to all your queries regarding this amazing superfood and the ways you can make use of it.

What are flaxseeds?

What are flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are edible seeds of Flax plant. They are brown in color and have a nutty flavor when you eat them.

Many big countries like China, Russia, and Canada are cultivating Flax seeds on a very large scale as their commercial fiber crop. Also, Flax oil or Linseed oil is in a popular use across geographies. Flax oil is an extract from Flaxseeds or Linseeds.

The popularity of Flax seed has grown in the recent past for its high nutritional and commercial values. In the textile industry, Linen is a commonly used fabric made from the fiber of the Flax plant.

What are the essential nutrients in flaxseeds?

You must be wondering! Why modern nutritionists consider flaxseed a superfood?

First of all, it contains all the essential nutrients you require for maintaining a good health viz. protein, fiber, calcium, and other minerals.  Secondly, it also contains a high amount of mucilaginous fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

Here’s a list of flaxseed’s nutritional elements:

  • Lignans (a type of plant estrogen that helps in fighting certain types of cancers)
  • Vitamins A1, B(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12), C, D, E, and K
  • Amino acids
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Fluoride
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Manganese

Nutritional Facts about Flaxseed

The pie chart below is showing fatty acid composition in Flaxseeds. Essential fatty acids are very important & critical for many body functions and structures.

Fatty Acid Composition pie chartThe above pie-charts shows clearly that flaxseed is a very rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids (greater 50% is Omega-3).

In an Omega-3 family, an essential fatty acids known as alpha-linolenic acid is present which prevent coronary heart disease, thrombosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and many other medical conditions.

As shown in the pie chart above, the percentage of Poly-Unsaturated fatty acids in flaxseed is very high 73% (Omega 3 +Omega 6). Due to which, flaxseeds are considered a valuable supplement in treating lifestyle diseases.

Possible benefits of flaxseeds

flaxseed benefits in daily life

According to a book Healing Food by Dorling Kindersley, flaxseeds are a wonderful “hunger suppressant” which is filled with a bevy of health benefits. Furthermore, there are many others ways in which these nutty delights can benefit you:

#1 Due to the high amount of omega 3 fatty acids in flax seeds, it helps in lowering your triglyceride level. As a result, you have a reduced chance of stroke and heart attack.

#2 According to the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences, flaxseeds contain a substance called Lignan. It helps in maintaining your estrogen level in hormone and consequently, it helps in dealing with problems related to menstruation.

#3 Flaxseeds are known for its high energy dense properties. That is why you feel satiated even if you take it in small quantity.

#4 A small portion of flaxseeds in your diet can help in reducing risks of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis (inflammation of the large intestine), diarrhea and other intestinal disorders.

#5 Flaxseeds are densely packed with anti-oxidant properties which increases your platelet count.

#6 Some studies suggest that flax seeds have positive effects in treating polycystic kidney disease and hepatic disorders.

#7 Due to the presence of PUFA (Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid), flaxseed is a promising food supplement for treating lifestyle diseases viz. diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases etc.

Flaxseed and Kidney disease

flax nutrition for kidney disease

The National Health Research Institute carried out a survey on mice with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) who were given flaxseed enriched food products.  There was a significant reduction in fibrosis (kidney scarring disease) in the mice. The scientists also observed about 40% decrease of PGE2 (a harmful protein which increases in kidney dysfunction) in the mice that ate the flax enriched food.

Flax oil (present in flaxseeds) contains a high amount of Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) which helps in maintaining your kidney functions.

PKD is one of the main reasons for kidney failure. Furthermore, the only feasible treatment for PKD is kidney transplant which is very expensive.

Flaxseed oil for Cholesterol

A new research study on peripheral artery disease suggests that flaxseed meal nutrition has a significant role in improving your vascular function. As a result, your total and LDL cholesterol is kept within limit.

Women after menopause tend to have a higher level of bad cholesterol. Taking flax supplements regularly will be very beneficial.

Flaxseed and Constipation

flaxseeds for constipation

These little crunchy seeds serve as an excellent source of dietary fiber (20%-40% soluble fiber and 60%-80% insoluble fiber) for an irregular bowel movement. The bacteria inside your large intestine ferment these seeds and consequently, they increase the bulk of your stool. Flax seeds are very useful in making your bowel movement consistent.

There was a survey on healthy adults with constipation and IBS problem. After a 4 weeks’ trial period, surveyors found that flax meal nutrition in your diet can increase your bowel movement by 30%.

Flaxseeds also reduce bloating and abdominal pain caused due to indigestion.

How does Flaxseed help in Prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer with a high probability rate among men worldwide. A research of 2014 observed that the consumption of flaxseeds on a regular basis improves your prostate health.  Furthermore, these seeds also help in preventing the chances of an enlarged prostate.

It prevents in the spreading of cancer cells for the reason that flaxseeds contain lignan, a type of phytochemical which has anti-cancerous properties. Lignans have the potential in fighting cancers related to our hormones.

Flaxseed oil benefits for Skin and Hair

Flaxseed is a rich and opulent source of ALA which reduces dryness of your skin. It also plays a significant role in reducing eczema, acne, dry eyes, dandruff, and atopic dermatitis.

There was a small review on 13 women who were given flaxseed supplement for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers observed that flax oil has a positive result in improving their skin health.

Flaxseed and Weight loss?

flaxseeds and weightloss

The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential component of Omega 3 fatty acid which is present in flax oil is responsible for maintaining your body weight within the limit.

According to a 2013 report by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the omega 3 fatty acid of flaxseeds triggers the production of Adiponectin (a kind of hormone made by our fat cells). This hormone regulates your metabolism and prevents obesity.

Flaxseed for Breast cancer

Since 1950 flaxseed has won approval of nutritionists and health experts for its cancer-fighting properties.  We have already seen flaxseed has a high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Likewise, it is also a rich source of Lignan which has the anti-cancerous effect on humans.

As lignan enter our bodies, they take place of natural estrogen and act as anti-estrogens in the estrogen receptors of your breast cells. The root cause of breast cancer lies in the abnormal functioning of estrogen.

Therefore it can be concluded, that the inclusion of Lignan in your diet can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Who can eat Flaxseeds?

who can eat flaxseeds

A small serving of flax meal nutrition can give you the right amount of nutritional benefit for your fitness.  Both men and women can take flaxseed in their diet as it helps in fighting a number of diseases viz. obesity, cholesterol, kidney problem, cancer and many more.

Flaxseed is the most essential food supplement for women after menopause. Due to hormonal changes after menopause, you tend to gain weight. A regular dose of flaxseed will keep your weight under control.

How much Flaxseed per day?

Flaxseed being a concentrated source of many nutrients, a small serving of these seeds can give you desired results. About 50 gm. (5 tbsp.) of flaxseed (preferably ground to the powder) intake per day can give you sufficient flax nutrition. However, the experts recommend keeping your servings smaller than 5 tbsp.

Different ways you can eat Flaxseeds

different ways to eat flax meal nutrition

We can eat flaxseeds in powdered form or as a whole in various dishes. However, experts always advise eating flax powder in order to digest it easily.

If you are eating flaxseed on daily basis or as a supplement, then the best way to consume it is in powdered form. This will make the digestion easier for your intestine.

In case you are eating flaxseeds as a whole you can add them to your dishes. It will give you the same health benefits:

    • Wafers/muffins/cakes: While preparing cakes or wafers, you can replace dry fruits with flax seeds. This will give your sweet dish a healthy touch.
    • Chicken nuggets: Instead of using breadcrumbs, try coating your nuggets with flax powder and get the same crunchy and healthy taste.
    • Soups: Add a teaspoon of flaxseeds for garnishing your favorite soup. It will not only enhance its taste but also give you the right dose of flax nutrition.
    • Salads: Do you prefer having a bowl of vegetable or chicken salad for lunch? Season your salad with 1 tsp. of roasted flax seeds. You can also use flax oil for salad dressing instead of olive oil. You can get all the essential nutrients from your platter. Even more, adding of flaxseeds will keep you satiated for the next 4-5 hours.

In addition to the above-mentioned food, there are various other recipes in which you can add flaxseeds. Smoothies, yogurt, cereals, patties etc. made of flaxseeds can make your meal healthy and delicious.

From where can I get Flaxseeds?

Where to buy flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are available in the milled form and as a whole in almost all the leading online stores. By doing a few clicks on your mouse, you can order these ready to eat and hygienically packed crunchy delights.

You may get flaxseeds, flaxseed powder and flaxseed oil in big grocery stores.

Flax oil which is an extract of these nutritious seeds is also readily available online. Usually, flax oil is used for cooking and salad dressing.

Side effects of Flaxseeds

flaxseed side-effects

While opting for a flax rich diet, it is better to know about its side effects too. The side-effects are definitely lesser than its multiple benefits.

  • Consult your healthcare care provider if you have diabetes and if you are under medication. Flaxseeds have a positive impact in lowering your blood sugar level.
  • Flaxseeds help in reducing your blood pressure level. But, if you already have a low BP or you are taking hypertensive drugs, then you must seek your doctor’s advice before starting the flax seed supplement.
  • According to some studies Flaxseeds act as a natural blood thinner. Taking flaxseeds without knowing its effect on your blood may be problematic.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t forget to consult your ob-gyn before choosing a flax diet. These seeds have the potential to affect your hormones.
  • A study suggests that the overdose of flax nutrition can lead to problems like shortness of breath, weakness, seizure and even paralysis.

The Monk’s Advice

Flaxseed is a versatile food supplement which contains loads of nutritional benefits. The presence of various essential components like Omega 3 fatty acids, lignans, dietary fiber, and many others make these tiny seeds very powerful to fight against chronic diseases.

Many research organizations are currently doing studies on this ‘miracle seed’ and looking for more nutritional elements in it. These researches will further help us in curing people of other chronic medical conditions.

You have ‘n’ no. of reasons to use flaxseed in your diet. What are you waiting for?

Start using flaxseeds generously in your diet and enjoy the benefits.

 

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