Although flaxseeds have been utilised for their medicinal and highly nutritious properties, they have gained a lot of traction over the years as the latest health fad. Noted to be a superfood that contains numerous benefits, flaxseeds come in two types, one in brown and the other in golden. Although they might differ from each other, both types of flaxseed are equally nutritious. In fact, just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains as much as 1,597 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, 1.3 grams of protein, and 1.9 grams of fibre. Interestingly enough, even with the amount of nutrients present in flaxseed, the calorie count caps at 37.
Benefits of flaxseed
Let’s delve into the nutritional benefits of flaxseed.
High Omega-3 Fats
Flaxseeds are one of the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Our bodies aren’t actually capable of producing ALA, but it is essential for maintaining the health of the body. In addition, ALA is noted to be one of the two nutrients that can only be obtained through the food you eat. ALA in flaxseed has been shown to combat cholesterol from building up along the artery walls and blood vessels of the heart. This fatty acid is also said to lower inflammation in the arteries and even lower the chances of tumour growth. People who meet their daily ALA requirements are less likely to develop heart disease and stroke. ALA is a key ingredient that plays a large role in keeping the heart healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids also do wonders for the skin, for instance, EPA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is responsible for keeping our skin hydrated and also works to slow down visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles and fine lines from developing on the skin. If you’re a vegetarian or need to increase your intake of omega-3, you can consider taking flaxseed to meet your daily requirements of omega-3 fatty acids.
Rich Source of Lignans
Lignans are plant compounds that contain antioxidant and estrogen properties that work hand-in-hand to lower the risk of cancer. Lignans also improve the overall health of the body. flaxseed contain up to 800 times more lignans compared to other types of plant foods. Flaxseeds are also extremely beneficial for women as they can lower the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, men too can benefit from flaxseed as this superfood reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Flaxseeds are also said to have the ability to fight colon and skin cancers, although more conclusive research is needed to confirm this.
Rich in Dietary Fibre
It’s no surprise that flaxseeds are rich sources of dietary fibre. flaxseed essentially contain two types of dietary fibre, one being 20-40 per cent soluble fibre and 60-70 per cent insoluble fibre. Both types of fibre work together to regulate bowel movement and blood sugar in the body. Soluble fibre also slows down the rate of digestion in the body and changes the consistency of the contents in the intestines by making them bigger. Whereas insoluble fibre works to bind the stools in your intestines, this, in turn, increases the bulk of your stools, making them softer and ultimately preventing constipation in the large intestine. If you have irritable bowel syndrome or face constipation, it would be good add some flaxseed into your diet to improve the health of your bowels.
Improve cholesterol and Lower Blood Pressure
Another advantage of consuming flaxseed is its ability to reduce cholesterol in the blood. Studies have shown that people who consume flaxseed powder on a regular basis for at least a period of three months had improved levels of cholesterol, in fact, it was reported that flaxseed lowered bad cholesterol by almost 20 per cent in participants who consumed 3 tablespoons of flaxseed for three months. It is theorised that this is largely due to the way the fibre in flaxseed bind to the bile salts before being excreted. Cholesterol in the blood is used to top-up or replenish these bile salts, which is essentially pulled from the blood and into the liver before being processed. Flaxseeds are also known to lower blood pressure. When taken along with blood pressure medications they work effectively to lower the blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure also leads to a lower risk of dying from stroke and heart disease.
Full of High-Quality Protein
If you need to increase your protein intake without having to eat meat or just prefer a plant-based protein, flaxseed is your best bet. The protein-rich flaxseed contains amino acids such as glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and arginine. Studies have also indicated that flaxseed supports the immune system, prevent tumours, and reduce cholesterol in the blood.
Flaxseed for Better Health
Whether you are aiming for better health or trying to prevent certain diseases or conditions flaxseed can maintain and improve the overall health of your body. It’s important to remember that a well-balanced diet and active lifestyle will go a long way in keeping your body in tip-top shape.