Flax seeds come from a fibrous plant that was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. Way before the age of scientific testing or nutritional value charts, King Charlemagne so believed in the powers of flax seeds that he decreed everyone in his country should eat them. Years later, we finally have the research data available that shows that King Charlemagne was really on to something. Read on to learn more about flax seeds health benefits and more.
Flax Seeds Health Benefits
So, what are the health benefits of flax seeds? Early research suggests many promising flax seeds health benefits, but the results are early and inconclusive. However, it is believed that flax seeds may contribute to lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes among others.
Lowers the Risk of Cancer
An exciting health benefit of flax seeds are that they may help lower an individual’s risk of cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research states that the research on flax seeds health benefits as they relate to cancer are well researched, and its effectiveness comes from a high dietary fiber content. Additionally, the fiber not only keeps one feeling full, reducing the risk of obesity but also the omega-3 contents work as an anti-inflammatory.
May Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
The University of Maryland Medical Center credits cardiovascular health to Omega-3s, which make platelets in the blood less sticky and therefore less likely to clog veins. It also reduces inflammation, promotes healthier blood vessels, and reduces the risk of an irregular heartbeat. Since flax seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, a diet which includes a daily service of flax seeds may also reduce the risk of heart attack.
Useful Addition in the Treatment of Diabetes
Preliminary studies are showing that diabetics who add a flax seed supplement to their diet for at least 12 weeks have stabilized and lowered blood sugar levels as indicated by their A1C. Supplements should only be used by diabetics after they have spoken to their doctor is it can interfere with some medications and even cause low blood sugar.
The health benefits of flax seeds may also help with hot flashes, high cholesterol and radiation. While flax shows great promise in assisting with a number of ailments, it is important to remember that no one food can cure all ills. However, the addition of flax seed to a healthy lifestyle is a great idea.
Nutritional Value of Flax Seeds
In addition to the numerous flax seeds health benefits mentioned earlier, we will also be looking at the nutrient content of these seeds. The main nutritional value comes from four main components, Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, mucilage and polyphenol antioxidants. These nutrients are rarely found in such high concentrations in a nut or grain. And the combination of all of them in one food makes them especially rare. Two tablespoons contain 75 calories, making it a high-calorie snack, although the nutritional facts of flax seeds is worth the caloric intake.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Flax seeds are rich in Omega-3s, which are found in the seeds alpha-linolenic acid. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the body’s general well-being. In addition, it seems Omega 3 can ameliorate the symptoms of depression and has a mood balancing effect.
Lignans – Flax seeds also hold the number 1 spot when it comes lignans. Lignans are a phytonutrient that work as antioxidants and as a fiber. Flax seeds contain 7 times more Lignans than their runner-up, sesame seeds. Lignans also work as a weak estrogen when consumed.
Mucilage – The substance in flax seeds that helps you stay fuller longer is known as mucilage. This is a gummy, water-soluble fiber that keeps the intestines from emptying the stomach too fast. When food stays in your stomach longer, it is also better able to absorb all of the nutrients available.
Polyphenol Antioxidants – When we think of antioxidant rich foods, we may think of fruits like blueberries. It turns out that flax seeds have much more antioxidants than most fruits. In fact, out of a list of 100 common foods, flax seeds are number 9th for their antioxidant content. Polyphenol antioxidants are a big contributor to why flax seeds can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
There are a multitude of ways in which you can add flax seeds to your diet if you want to take advantage of the numerous flax seeds health benefits. Grinding flax seeds in a coffee or spice grinder is the best way to prepare them, as when it is ground it is both easier to eat and digest.
Here are some of the foods in which you can include flax seeds:
-Add ground flax seeds to your cereals in the morning. It goes well with both hot and cold cereal.
-When making a smoothie, add a tablespoon of ground flax seeds.
-Add flax seeds to baking flower. In this way, you can take advantage of flax seeds health benefits, while eating a delicious dessert. If you are on a gluten-free diet, flax seeds can be a great addition, since they do not contain gluten.
-Sprinkle on top of cooked vegetables.
-Make your own granola bars using whole flax seeds.
There is really no limit to the uses of flax seeds. Their flavor is not overpowering, meaning you could add it to any dish and benefit from the nutrition without compromising on taste. Because flax seed is readily available at most grocery stores, it is an easy and cheap addition to your healthy diet.
Flax seeds health benefits may need more research, but even the preliminary findings are exciting. We could all stand to take King Charlemagne’s advice and add a serving of flax seeds to our daily diet. Preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes is always a win! Do you have a favorite way to incorporate flax seeds into your diet? How would you take advantage of flax seeds health benefits? Let us know in the comments!