Flax seeds have been consumed for their health benefits for centuries and there are even reports of Charles the Great ordering his subjects to eat the seeds for their health. They are now considered a superfood. Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that are considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
Superfoods are mostly plant-based but some fish and dairy are also numbered among them. Flax seeds have gained popularity as a health food because of their high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, fibre, protein, some vitamins, and other unique plant compounds. They are usually brown or yellow and sold either whole, ground, or roasted and often processed into flaxseed oil which is easily digested and is a concentrated source of healthy fats.
1. Heart health
Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fats which are great for heart health in numerous ways. One study found that the omega-3 fatty acids in them, ALA, in particular, prevented cholesterol from being deposited in the blood vessels of the heart reducing inflammation of the arteries and reducing tumour growth. ALA in flax seeds was linked to a 14% lower risk of heart disease. Those who consumed more ALA also had a lower risk of heart attacks.
Another study found that daily consumption of flaxseed significantly reduced blood pressure whether or not the participants were taking blood pressure medication. ALA has also been linked to a lower risk of stroke.
2. Lower risk of cancer
Flaxseed is one of the best natural sources of lignans which are compounds that have been linked to a lower risk of cancer, particularly prostate and breast cancer. These seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than any other plant food. This makes them a potentially valuable food in the fight against various cancers. Cancer: Here Are Some Of The Causes And Symptoms To Look Out For
3. Digestive health
These seeds are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres. The insoluble fibre in them bulks up stool resulting in more regular bowel movements and helping the intestines process waste more effectively. The insoluble fibre also softens the stool preventing constipation for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
The soluble fibre increases the consistency of the contents of the intestine and slows down the digestion rate which has been found to help regulate blood sugar. The soluble fibre, in particular, turns into a type of gel in the stomach that helps absorb cholesterol before it ever gets into the bloodstream lowering cholesterol.
The slowing of digestion also has the effect of controlling appetite by creating a feeling of fullness which reduces the feelings of hunger. This makes flax seeds a great natural way to manage hunger and appetite especially for people trying to lose weight.
4. Control blood sugar
Supplementing your diet with flaxseed may also help you manage your blood sugar. One study found that people with diabetes who add flax seeds to their diet see a decrease of nearly 20% in their glucose. It is especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes which is characterized by high blood sugar levels as a result of wither the body’s inability to secrete insulin or resistance to it. How to live with diabetes
5. Great source of plant-based protein
With people becoming increasingly concerned about consuming animal-based foods for health, ethical and environmental reasons, it’s good to know that flax seeds are a great source of plant-based protein. Tests have shown flaxseed protein improves immune function, lowers cholesterol, prevents tumours, and had anti-fungal properties.
Ways to consume flax seeds and flaxseed oil
- Add to water and drink as part of your daily fluid intake. 7 Tricks For Keeping Yourself Hydrated Every Day
- Drizzle flaxseed oil on salad.
- Sprinkle them ground on your cereal.
- Mix them in your favourite yoghurt.
- Add them to the baking batter for cookies, muffins, bread, and more.
- Mix them in smoothies to thicken the consistency. 5 Smoothie Recipes To Boost Your Energy
- Add them to water as a substitute for eggs in recipes.
- Incorporate them into meat patties.
These power seeds will lower cholesterol and blood pressure, keeping the heart-healthy. They lower blood sugar as well as the risk of cancer. They are a great source of protein and fibre which is great for digestive health. Find creative ways to incorporate them into your diet.