For something so small, flaxseed has big benefits. Recent studies have shown that flaxseed, known to the world for thousands of years, may aid in lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing bone loss, promoting weight loss, increasing immunity, and fighting cancer.
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Flaxseed is high in:
- Vitamins and minerals, including most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese
- Fiber, both soluble and insoluble
- Phytochemicals, including many powerful antioxidants such as lignans. In fact, because it’s a plant, flaxseed is one of the best sources of lignans around, Metsovas says.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, key to fighting inflammation. Flaxseed is a mega-source of the plant version of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed oil is about 50 percent ALA — five times more than walnut oil or canola oil, which are the next highest sources of ALA.
1. Lowers blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The soluble fiber in flaxseed has been shown to lower cholesterol, helping to prevent the buildup of plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack. Fiber is also believed to lower blood sugar levels, which is important for people who have type 2 diabetes.
2. Reduces bone loss.
A study of diabetic rats showed a delay in bone loss after they were fed flaxseed, thanks to its concentration of fatty acids.
3. Helps with weight management.
Flax expands when ingested, making you feel fuller. You might want to take flax 30 minutes before meals to control your appetite.
4. Improves digestive health.
The fiber in flaxseed can help relieve constipation and make you more regular.
5. Increases immunity.
ALA has been shown to decrease inflammation, which allows your immune system to function better. Preliminary research suggests that flaxseed can help relieve autoimmune and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus.
6. Fights Cancer.
Studies show that flaxseed may have a role in fighting cancer, particularly colon and breast cancer. The benefit is based on its high concentration of lignans, which are believed to inhibit tumor growth.
Despite all the good research about flaxseed benefits, false claims about flaxseed do exist and more research is needed. According to experts, fish oil, and its omega-3s, are still more beneficial.
There are other cautions. People who have inflammatory bowel conditions, like Crohn’s disease, should avoid flaxseeds due to