Linum usitatissimum -- the scientific name of flaxseed -- literally means ‘very useful’. Flax, which is also known as Linseed or Alsi, is a multi-purpose plant that was majorly used to manufacture linen fabric in western countries long before we knew it as the wonder seed that it is. But now, the health benefits of flaxseeds and its usage knows no boundaries.
The nutty-tasting brown seeds can either be eaten in their raw form or crushed to release flaxseed oil. Thanks to its high content of essential nutrients and omega-3 fats, flaxseeds have gained popularity as a healthy food. The best part: you don’t really need to load up on flaxseeds. According to experts, even a tablespoon of flaxseeds is enough to meet your essential nutritional requirement. Not just flaxseeds, flaxseed oil too is full of protein and is rich in fiber as well.
Yes, you all might have heard that flaxseeds are beneficial but do you know how it really works? From aiding in weight loss to controlling the blood pressure, here are some of the flaxseed benefits that you might not know about.
- Reduces The Risk Of Cancer
- Aids In Weight Loss
- Promotes Heart Health
- Regulates Blood Sugar
- Reduces Hot Flashes
- Improves Digestion & Prevents Constipation
- Boosts Immune System
- Eases Arthritis Symptoms
- Rejuvenates Skin & Promotes Hair Growth
Flaxseeds help in reducing the risk of cancer. Rich in lignans (a plant-based nutrient), flaxseeds are antioxidants that may slow the tumour growth, and several studies have shown that. The wonder seed also contains omega-3 fatty acids which are proven to be beneficial in preventing types of cancer cells from growing and a 2016 study has suggested the same.
PS: Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than any other plant foods.
Helping in weight management is one of the most known benefits of flaxseed. And this is primarily because of its high fiber content. Flaxseeds contain soluble fiber which helps you feel full, which in turn, results in lower intake of calories. Therefore, if you need to snack in between your meals, a spoonful of flaxseeds can be your go-to snack.
Flaxseeds have fiber, phytosterols and Omega-3 fatty acids in abundance and improve heart health. It is one of the best foods to lower blood pressure too. Lignans reduce inflammation, which in turn, eases the flow of blood.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil benefits are unmatchable when it comes to managing diabetes. A great source of soluble fibre, flaxseeds can lower unhealthy cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. Regular intake of moderate amounts of flaxseeds can improve insulin levels and delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Hot flashes are one of the most common signs of perimenopause (years leading up to menopause). While only some of the women experience the flushing of hot flashes, flaxseeds may help reduce its severity. A 2007 study has shown that including flaxseeds in your diet may help women during menopause.
Not just soluble, flaxseeds are rich in insoluble fiber too. The insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and heals the intestine, creating a safe passage for stools and hence, prevents constipation. However, consuming flaxseed with less amount of water can actually worsen constipation. Meanwhile, the soluble fiber in these nutty seeds act as a natural laxative and promote digestion and improve bowel movement.
When it comes to the health benefits of flaxseed, the seeds are very nutritious and improve the immune system as well. With components like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), essential omega-3 fatty acid, and lignans, flaxseeds affect immune cells in a positive way. ALA and lignans play a beneficial role in the clinical management of autoimmune diseases like bowel disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Isn’t this one of the most important health benefits of flaxseed?
Loaded with ALA and omega-2 fatty acids, flaxseed helps in reducing inflammation, which is a factor in several types of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases as well as arthritis.
Flaxseed benefits are not just limited to your health. The Vitamin E present in flaxseeds is great for both skin and hair. Flaxseed oil benefits include nourishment of the skin and provide the much-needed vitamins and minerals. We know that acne is caused by inflammation and flaxseeds are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It also helps in softening fine lines and wrinkles.
Rich in B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and copper, flaxseeds boost hair growth and help them grow stronger and longer. Flaxseed benefits also include preventing premature greying of hair. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds also help in preventing hair loss and dandruff.
Eating flaxseeds every day will lower the level of bad cholesterol in your body, which in turn, will help decrease the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart diseases. This is just one of the numerous benefits of flaxseeds.
While fresh, whole flaxseeds last up to a year in an airtight container, ground flaxseeds usually last about six months in the freezer. PS: You should always keep flaxseeds in an opaque bottle and refrigerate it.
Do not eat them raw. Not only will they cause indigestion, but they also contain toxic compounds. You can add some roasted flaxseeds on your fruits or add a tablespoon of grounded flaxseed to your hot or cold breakfast cereal. If making a sandwich, you can also add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to mayonnaise or mustard.
Whole flaxseeds are difficult to crack and it usually passes through the digestive tract unbroken, and therefore, you will not be able to receive the nutritional benefits of flaxseed. However, grinding up the seed makes it easier for you to digest.
They have a pleasant and nutty taste.
Flaxseeds, when consumed in moderate amounts, may not have any side effects. But some people can have allergic reactions due to excessive consumption of the seeds. Some of the reactions include abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea.
Taken before a meal, flaxseeds can make you feel less hungry. Not only that, flaxseeds are rich in magnesium which has the ability to reduce stress and in turn, can lead to a good night’s sleep.
Usually, experts recommend about two to four tablespoons of flaxseeds per day. However, you should start with half or 1 tablespoon and gradually increase the amount.
There has been no evidence that consuming flaxseed during pregnancy can be harmful, however, there is some concern that large amounts of flaxseed can affect hormone levels. Eating in moderation is generally safe and in fact, beneficial during the prenatal period. We’d recommend you to consult your doctor first.
Being an excellent source of fiber, flaxseeds can be beneficial for your little one’s digestive system. It’s great to introduce around seventh months of age but until a year, you should use flax meal instead of flaxseeds.
A powerhouse for healthy eating and disease prevention, the benefits of flaxseeds are numerous. Now that you know all about them, it's time to start consuming them!
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