Flaxseed has been called a wonder food, the most powerful plant food, and high-fiber super food for valid reason.
So what is flaxseed?
Sometimes called linseeds, flaxseeds are golden or brown colored seeds that offer a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1 and a super supply of omega-3 fatty acids. 1
Why is flaxseed so important?
Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than any other plant. By definition, lignans contain both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, and for each tablespoon of ground flax, you will find 1.8 grams of plant based omega-3s. Flaxseed is considered to be a medicinal food as well, and has been shown to protect against many life-threatening health conditions. While some benefits have not been “conclusively established”, preliminary studies have suggested that flaxseed may help fight heart disease, diabetes and may prevent certain cancers, colon, breast and prostate cancer. 2
What are lignans?
Lignans are a group of chemical compounds known as polyphenols. Found in plants, lignans form building blocks of plant cell walls. They contain phytoestrogens which help regulate the body’s estrogen production. When we consume lignan compounds, they are converted in our intestines by good bacteria to produce a form that our body can incorporate.
What can lignans do for me?
As mentioned before, it has been shown that lignans play a role in protecting against cancer. They are responsible for blocking enzymes that are part of hormone metabolism and interfere with spread and growth of tumor cells. Other health benefits include lowering blood-pressure, which may be attributed to the amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds. Consuming a daily dose of flaxseeds may also improve cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The suggested dose, according to the Flax Council of Canada, is 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. However, in the US, more research continues. 3, 4
Which one is better?
Flaxseed comes in different forms, ground or milled and whole. Ground flaxseeds are a better choice for digestion. Because ground flaxseed is more easily digested, the nutrients from flaxseeds are more easily absorbed. Typically, you will find brown or golden flaxseed in the stores, and there is little nutritional difference. In the store, you can find flaxseed among other flours and grains.
Always check labels
Be sure you are not purchasing whole flaxseed unless you prefer to mill it at home. It may take to be sure you are not purchasing whole flaxseed unless you prefer to mill it at home. It may take time to get used to a new food, so nutritionists recommend adding flaxseed into yogurt, smoothies, soup, cereal or oatmeal. Another way to incorporate flax is to mix into sauces, casseroles, and protein mixtures, as well as baked goods. 5
Once purchased, it’s important to store ground flax in the freezer, so that it does not oxidize and lose nutritional value.
While there is no magic pill or cure that will guarantee good health, we can take daily steps to prevent or improve our existing conditions. Choosing a healthy diet and incorporating flaxseed into one of your meals is a good place to start.
A great resource for information and recipes can be found at www.flax.com