For something so small, flaxseed has big benefits. Recent studies have shown that flaxseed, known to the world for thousands of years, may aid in lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing bone loss, promoting weight loss, increasing immunity, and fighting cancer, says clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas of Laguna Beach, Calif.
Flaxseed is high in:
- Vitamins and minerals, including most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese
- Fiber, both soluble and insoluble
- Phytochemicals, including many powerful antioxidants such as lignans. In fact, because it’s a plant, flaxseed is one of the best sources of lignans around, Metsovas says.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, key to fighting inflammation. Flaxseed is a mega-source of the plant version of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed oil is about 50 percent ALA — five times more than walnut oil or canola oil, which are the next highest sources of ALA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in three Americans (68 million) has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. A normal blood pressure reading is 120 over 80. If you consistently exceed these numbers, visit your physician. According to Greek researchers, flaxseed oil should also be able to help. In their 12-week study of 59 middle-aged men, they discovered that flaxseed oil consumption resulted in significantly lowered blood pressure readings. Consider adding flaxseed oil to your diet and you may be saving yourself –literally– from the headaches associated with hypertension.
- Skin Cancer
Do you dream of having a tan that would make George Hamilton or Snooki jealous? Nothing helps you look younger and highlights muscle quite like a tan, but there’s always a skin cancer risk. Forget indoor tanning. Research has proven just how damaging that is. If you’re lucky enough to be in a warmer climate, and the sun worshipper in you can’t be contained, apply sunscreen. Be smart and also consume flaxseed. Omaha researchers found that mice receiving 10% flaxseed supplementation were able to reduce melanoma tumors by as much as 63%.
It’s true: Depression hurts. It has the potential to impact on every moment of your day. There are plenty of antidepressants that doctors may prescribe, but according to a Japanese study, a simple dietary addition may also prove useful. Their study found that patients with significant depression levels also suffered from lower levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentanoic acids that are found in various foods including fish, walnuts, and flax. If you’re depressed and haven’t yet investigated the effects your diet maybe having on you, there’s no time like the present.
- Liver Disease
Are you living a healthy and fit lifestyle, yet still can’t shake the alcohol consumption? Just like any self-destructive behavior, you may be putting yourself at great risk. One very serious possibility is liver disease. Fortunately, for those who can’t seem to help themselves, there may be a way to decrease the risk factors involved with liver disease. Recent research conducted on 30 men found that those receiving flaxseed lignan capsules effectively reduced their liver disease risk factors. They concluded that 100 mg supplementation could be beneficial. Of course, a better idea would be to stop drinking.
Are you suffering from high cholesterol? Left untreated, your arteries could become clogged leading to a heart attack or stroke. Studies indicate that flaxseed can help. Interestingly enough, according to Iowa State University researchers, it only has the ability to lower the cholesterol of men. So, while researchers caution that it cannot match the cholesterol-lowering effects of prescription medication, if you’re looking for a drug-free, relatively inexpensive way to treat your problem, consider taking flaxseed lignan tablets or sprinkling some ground flaxseed overtop of your meals.
- Prostate Cancer
Another male-exclusive benefit of flaxseed is its ability to assist in the fight against prostate cancer. In the United States there were 241,740 newly reported cases and 28,170 prostate cancer related deaths in 2012. With such ominous numbers, it’s no wonder researchers continue to search for ways to combat it. One study of 161 pre-surgery prostate cancer patients found that flaxseed appears to significantly reduce cancer cell creation rates. How? Another study indicates it’s likely because flaxseed has the ability to disrupt the events leading to cancerous cell production.
How much flaxseed should you take?
There is no set dose of flaxseed. In studies of people with high cholesterol, 40 to 50 grams of flaxseed per day has been used; 15 grams for improving kidney function in people with lupus; 40 grams for mild menopause symptoms. Flaxseed must be ground prior to ingestion or it won’t work for these conditions. Ask your doctor for advice. In order to lower triglycerides, 38-60 grams of flaxseed oil daily has been used.
Flaxseed can be mixed with liquid or food, such as muffins or bread. To be absorbed, however, it must me ground before using it to allow the oils to be available. Some people use a small coffee grinder to grind daily doses as needed.