Flaxseed has been used for thousands of years as a food source. But it’s also been used as a medicine to help with certain digestive issues. Whether you sprinkle ground flax on your food, or take seed oil from the plant in capsule form, flaxseed has been shown to deliver many important health benefits.
Here are 10 reasons why you should seriously consider making this incredible plant a part of your daily health regimen:
1. Rich in Fiber
One of the reasons why flaxseed is such an effective method of addressing digestive problems, such as constipation, is that it’s high in soluble fiber, as well as a gel known as “mucilage.” Both soluble fiber and mucilage expand when they come into contact with water in your digestive tract. This, in turn, helps “bulk up” stool so that it has an easier time moving through your body.
2. Antioxidant Properties
Flaxseed also contains polyphenols known as lignans. Polyphenols are molecules that have antioxidant properties which help protect your body from the dangerous effects of oxidation. Flaxseed contains as much as 800 times the amount of lignans, compared to other plant foods.2
Lignans have been shown to not only help support the cardiovascular system, but also the colon. As an added benefit, flaxseed is also high in several important minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.3
3. Weight Loss
According to one study, a diet containing flaxseed and walnuts could help people suffering from obesity support a healthier body weight.4 Ground flax is also low in sugar, starch, and calories.5
4. Cholesterol Management
Adding ground flax to your diet could also help support healthy cholesterol levels, and, in turn, support your cardiovascular health. The soluble fiber in flax helps to trap cholesterol – as well as fat – in your digestive tract. This cholesterol then moves through your digestive system, rather than being absorbed into your blood, where it could clog your arteries.6
5. Immune System Support
Your immune system helps protect you from many types of illnesses. Flaxseed helps strengthen your body’s defenses, thanks to a substance known as glutamine. Studies show that glutamine helps reduce inflammation and the risk of infection.7
6. Supporting Healthy Blood Pressure
Flaxseed could also play a role in helping to support healthy blood pressure levels. One study found that people who consumed 30 grams of ground flax a day for six months saw a substantial decrease in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.8 Another study showed that consuming flaxseed each day for three months lowered blood pressure readings slightly.9 And even a slight reduction in blood pressure can significantly reduce the risk of death from heart-related issues.10
7. Packed With Protein
Ground flax is rich in protein that contain high levels of the amino acids arginine and glutamic acid. Arginine can help protect the body from some of the debilitating effects of aging. It has also been shown to help speed healing from wounds and burns.11 Glutamic acid plays a role in the proper functioning of the central nervous system.12
8. Blood Sugar Support
When people have a hard time controlling their blood sugar levels, the results can be catastrophic. There is growing evidence that flaxseed could play a role in helping to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood. In one study, researchers found that people who consumed 10 grams of ground flax a day for 30 days saw their blood sugar levels drop as much as 20 percent.13 One of the reasons why may be that fiber helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream. As a result, it may help to reduce blood sugar levels, though it is not a substitute for medication.14
9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flaxseed is high in an omega-3 fatty acid known as ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid. Your body is able to convert ALA into another fatty acid known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA has been linked to improved cardiovascular health.15
One study involving more than 3,000 people showed that people who consume more ALA fatty acid have a lower risk of suffering heart problems.16 Researchers analyzed studies involving more than 250,000 people, and found that those with more ALA in their systems had a nearly 15 percent lower risk of developing heart problems.17
10. Reducing the Symptoms of Menopause
Flaxseed may help reduce some of the symptoms associated with menopause. Women experiencing postmenopausal symptoms ingested 40 grams of ground flaxseed a day for nearly five months. According to the results, they averaged a 50 percent reduction in hot flashes – a common symptom of menopause.18
How to Use Flaxseed
There are many ways that you can use ground flax so that you can enjoy the health benefits. You can sprinkle it on a pastry, such as a cookie or a muffin. Ground flax is great as a topping for your favorite cereal or oatmeal. You can also mix it into a batter for pancakes or French toast, or just sprinkle it on regular toast.
There are basically no limits to how to use ground flax. Throw some on a salad, or mix it into your favorite salad dressing. Add it to mustard, mayo, or ketchup. Add them to water for a quick and easy egg substitute. Ground flax can also spruce up your favorite pasta dish.19
Some people prefer to take flax seed oil instead. Plenty of readily-available products contain this fantastic ingredient. Flaxseed oil capsules or liquid is a convenient way to get flax into your diet. Whether you take a capsule or choose to use ground flax instead, you’ll still be able to obtain the same positive impacts to your health.
One Last Note
Before making flaxseed a part of your regular dietary routine, make sure you first have a talk with your doctor. They can determine if there’s a chance flaxseed could negatively interact with any medications you’re taking. If you get the green light, start using flaxseed as often as you can, so that you can enjoy its incredible health benefits.