We frequently hear about the so-called 'superfood' products. But there is no food with 'magical effect' or benefits by itself. Still, we need to practice a balanced, suitable diet in order to feel a series of positive effects. Helpful products do exist, and one of them is flaxseed. This is supported by numerous scientific research that confirms its positive effects.
What to choose?
Flaxseed oil contains only fatty components of the seed. This means that it has a very high caloric value, and other nutrients from the seeds are absent. Such nutrients are fiber, various vitamins, and minerals, which have a significant beneficial effect on the body (more details below).
Fats in flaxseed oil can be easily damaged. They are significantly more sensitive than other fats in the presence of heat and light. When fats are damaged, they have impaired nutritional value and also can be potentially dangerous, leading to diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and inflammatory processes.
So, the dangers of flaxseed oil are lower nutritional value (due to the presence of fat component only), significantly higher caloric value and danger of easy spoilage.
We will highlight 8 most important beneficial effects of flaxseed that are scientifically supported:
1) Rich source of various nutrients
One tablespoon contains about 7 g of this seed. Such a small amount contains a good percentage of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as various vitamins and minerals. One tablespoon of flaxseed contains:
The health benefits of flaxseed are mainly related to omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and the group of polyphenols - lignans.
2) Rich source of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients, which means that the body does not have the mechanism to create them, so we need to get them through our diet. Flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that have shown to prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce the risk of a heart attack. This is especially important for vegetarians because their diet does not include fish.
The mechanism by which these fatty acids protect against cardiovascular disease mainly is based on preventing cholesterol from accumulating in the blood vessels. They also help in inflammation reduction in the blood vessels and reducing the risk of developing tumors.
A series of 27 scientific studies involving 250,000 people found that omega-3 fatty acids of plant origin reduced the risk of heart disease by 14%.
3) Flaxseed is a source of lignans
Lignans are a group of polyphenolic compounds that have properties that can help reduce the risk of developing cancer. The anticancer effect is mainly based on the antioxidant and estrogenic effects of lignans. Thus, scientific research suggests that lignans can help to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer in men and breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women.
Flaxseed contains as much as 800 times more lignans than other plant products.
4) Flaxseed contains a significant percentage of fiber
Fiber is important for the body in many ways, and research confirms its importance but also reveals new mechanisms through which they have a positive effect on the body.
The positive effect of fiber is caused by two reasons:
- First, they help maintain the health of the digestive system by providing beneficial intestinal microflora. This leads to a series of beneficial effects on the body.
- Second, they interfere with the function of enzymes in the digestive tract, making digestion slower, and thus the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream is gradual. Also, insoluble fiber allows water to bind more easily to the stool and thus helps with the movement of food through the intestines.
5) Flaxseed can help to decrease blood cholesterol levels
One study included people with high cholesterol that consumed 1 oz of flaxseed per day. The research lasted for 3 months. The end result was a 17% reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 12% reduction in HDL cholesterol.
It is expected that this effect is due to the fiber, which binds to the bile salts that are then excreted from the body. To replace these lost bile salts, the body takes the cholesterol from blood in the liver.
6) It can help to decrease blood pressure
Some research has also found that it can help to lower blood pressure.
For those already using antihypertensive medication, flaxseed can help significantly. One study found that regular consumption of 1 oz of flaxseed per day reduced the number of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure by 17%.
7) Flaxseed contains high-quality proteins
Flaxseed is a great source of protein. High quality is due to the composition of the proteins. They contain significant amino acids such as arginine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
Several laboratory animal studies have shown that flaxseed protein can help improve immunity, decrease cholesterol, and prevent malignant diseases. These proteins have also been shown to have anti-fungal effects.
8) It can help in blood sugar regulation
This effect of flaxseed is primarily due to the high percentage of fiber. As already mentioned, fiber makes the work of the stomach enzymes more challenging, after which glucose is produced slowly. Thus, the absorption of glucose into the blood is slower.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this text is to stimulate critical health thinking. Medical information does not amount to advice and if advice is needed an appropriate professional help should be asked. No warranties or representations are given in respect of the medical information, and the website operator should not be held liable if a user suffers any injury or loss after relying upon the medical information.