Flaxseed: Benefits, Nutrition and Uses
Are flaxseeds the new superfood? You may be rolling your eyes and wondering if this is just another “superfood” hype that will fizzle out after a few months. But facts do not lie. Flaxseeds are beginning to gain popularity recently, but these seeds had been known to man as early as 3000BC in Babylon. It is also known to have been popular in ancient China and Egypt. It is, therefore, one of the oldest when it comes to fiber crops. Only recently has there been enough scientific research to confirm the nutritional and health value of these flat seeds. In this blog article, we will explore the facts about flaxseeds – their benefits, their nutritional value, and the several uses they have for humanity. Presently, flaxseeds are available in capsules, seeds, oil, and powder. They are being used in the treatment of diabetes, cancer, constipation, and several other conditions. But is it all based on facts? Let’s find out.
Quick Facts About Flaxseeds
- Flaxseed is a fiber crop. It grows in Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe.
- They appear in golden brown, reddish-brown, and golden yellow colors.
- It contains essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Flaxseeds are gotten from flax plants. The same plant produces fibers that are used to make linen fabrics.
- They need to be eaten only after grinding them. This is the only way the body can break them down and harvest their nutrients.
- Two tablespoonfuls of flaxseeds contain a hundred calories.
- Each serving contains almost three grams of protein and four grams of fiber.
- Flaxseeds have a short shelf life. They last longer when stored in a refrigerator.
- They have been used to treat constipation, diabetes, cancer, and some skin conditions.
- Flaxseeds are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, fat, and various minerals.
Benefits Of Flaxseeds
- Packed With Nutrients
Flaxseeds are loaded with various minerals, vitamins, protein, and fat. As indicated earlier, a typical serving of flaxseeds (which is a tablespoonful) contains about forty calories. But it makes up for that with other nutrients. Each tablespoon contains proteins (1.3 grams), carbohydrates (2 grams), fiber (1.9 grams), saturated fat (0.3 grams), total fat 93 grams) monounsaturated fat (0.5 grams), polyunsaturated fat (2.0 grams), and omega-3 fatty acid (about 1,600 milligrams). It also contains vitamins B1 an B6, iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. The Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds are plant-based alpha-linolenic acid. This is essential for vegetarians who cannot benefit from fish-based omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that alpha-linolenic acid helps to prevent bad cholesterol from being deposited in the blood vessels of the heart. It, therefore, ensures that inflammations in the arteries as well as tumor growth are reduced.
- Protection Against Cancer
Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are said to prevent the growth of cells that cause cancer in the body. Aside from the omega-3 fatty acids, there are lignans which have antiangiogenic properties. These help to prevent the growth of tumors in the body. When it comes to lignans, flaxseeds have it over eight hundred times more than other sources. When lignans are consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet, studies have shown that it is capable of protecting the body against several types of cancer. When added to a low-fat diet and consumed regularly, flaxseeds are said to stop the growth of prostate cancer tumors. That’s not all, some studies on breast cancer prevention indicate that when flaxseeds are added to diet regularly, it reduces the risk of breast cancer considerably.
- A Friend To The Heart
The benefit of research has proven that regularly consuming flaxseeds is of immense benefit to the heart. Flaxseeds contain fiber and phytosterols, which, when added to the omega-3 fatty acids, help to boost the heart’s condition considerably. They do this by making sure that bad cholesterol is not absorbed into the blood, and thus does not reach the heart. Still related to the heart, the American Heart Association has recommended the addition of more fiber to meals. This reduces the tendency to over-eat. This is because fiber fills the stomach and reduces the appetite to eat more. And as mentioned already, flaxseeds are rich in fiber. To add to that, the omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds offer a plant-based alternative to the omega-3 oils found in fish. In effect, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids are the perfect solution for vegetarians to seeking to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
- Blood Sugar Level And Constipation
Flaxseeds contain lignans as well as some other phytoestrogens that help in preventing certain chronic conditions like diabetes. This is because the lignans and phytoestrogens have anti-inflammatory properties. A study published id 2013 showed the regular consumption of flaxseeds by men with prediabetes helps to control their blood pressure. Other studies indicated that there was a drop in insulin and glucose levels of the participants in the study. But those claims have been challenged. When it comes to constipation, flaxseeds contain soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. In the intestinal tract, the insoluble fiber absorbs water, which adds mass to the digestive tract. This helps to make movement in the tract easier and regular. However, when flaxseeds are consumed without enough water, the opposite occurs – constipation worsens and leads to a blockage in the intestinal tract. It is important to indicate, however, that, too much consumption of flaxseeds can lead to diarrhea.
- Flaxseeds Are Rich In High-Quality Protein
Flaxseeds are a rich source of protein which is plant-based. This has led to increasing interest in flaxseed protein and the healthy option it provides for vegetarians. Protein from flaxseed is rich in amino acids, glutamic acid, and aspartic acid. Several lab studies on animals have revealed that the protein contained in flaxseed helps to improve the immune system. It also helps to lower cholesterol, helps to prevent the growth of tumors, and has anti-fungal properties. Again, it offers an ideal alternative for meat-based protein, especially if a person is trying to reduce his/her meat consumption. In addition to that, consuming a small amount is enough to fill you up and leave you satisfied for long hours. In a recent study, twenty-one adults were given either an animal-based protein food or a plant-based one. The study showed that there was no difference in relation to appetite or the amount of food taken. The suggestion was that it is possible that both the plant-based and animal-based protein meals stimulated some hormones in the stomach to provide a feeling of satisfaction. This resulted in consuming less.
Add To Meals
Another thing about flaxseeds that is making them increasingly popular is how versatile they are when it comes to the ways in which they can be consumed. They can easily blend with a meal or taken as a meal on its own. Here are some examples you can try when consuming flaxseeds.
- Flaxseeds can be taken directly as a meal. All you have to do is grind them and add some water to it. Allow it to sit and soak the water for some minutes before drinking it.
- You can also follow the same example above. But this time with other liquids. You can mix it with your favorite juice, fruit shake, or yogurt. You do not have to worry about a change in the taste of your drink. Flaxseeds have a bland taste and will not get in the way of your taste buds.
- You can give your vegetable salad and fruit salad some extra texture by sprinkling some ground flaxseed on them to give rump up the nutrition.
- You may not need to add extra texture to your morning cereal, but you sure do need to make it extra nutritious. The trick? Just sprinkle some grind flaxseeds on it, and you are good to go.
- Do you love baking cakes and pastries? Do you love eating them? You can give your cakes, pies, bread, and pastries several shots of nutrition by sprinkling some grind flaxseeds on them before sliding them into the oven.
- Are you looking for that protein shake without eggs or any animal stuff? Simply make your own protein at home with flaxseeds. As mentioned earlier, they have all the protein you need.
- Please note that, as mentioned earlier, although flaxseeds can be eaten whole, the body will struggle to break it down and utilize the nutritious benefits they have to offer. To allow for easy digestion and absorption, always grind your flaxseed or use the flaxseed oil.
Flaxseeds are available in various forms – flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, and whole flaxseed. They are available in most shops near you, so they are not difficult to get. Ground flaxseed and whole flaxseed can last for up to a year when stored at a cool, dry place under room temperature. Flaxseed oil does not last that long. It is important always to keep it refrigerated.
Flaxseed is regaining popularity again after years of being relatively ignored. However, with the benefit of research and scientific proof, people are beginning to realize the important these seeds are to their health. And you should too.