To know the health benefits of flax seeds, you need only refer to its scientific name: Linum Usitatissimum. The first part of this name, linum, indicates linen or fabric which is very much a byproduct of flax. The second half, Usitatissimum, stands for ‘of greatest use’.
So let us study the many health benefits of flax seeds.
1. They have tons of vitamins and minerals
Flaxseeds are nothing short of superfood. They are filled with tons of nutritional goodness in the form of proteins, good fats and dietary fiber. Flax seeds contain vitamins A, C,E and K as well as B vitamins and folates. Sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganes and zinc are also present in this superfood.
2. Flax seeds weight loss benefit
Flax seeds are anti inflammatory thanks to their rich omega 3 essential fatty acid content. They are one of the best sources of alpha linolenic acid which is an anti-fat acid. This means that it speeds up metabolism of fats and can aid in weight loss.
3. They are rich in lignans
Lignans are special antioxidants and natural plant chemicals. While most seeds and nuts are storehouses of lignans, flax seeds contain one of the highest amounts. Just 1/8th cup of raw flax seeds will give you all the lignans you’d get from 60 cups of broccoli! You can also get lignans from flax oil as they are retained in the fiber when the oil is expelled from the seeds.
4. Anti cancer, anti viral, anti-inflammatory
The lignans are only one of the 27 anti cancer compounds found in flax seeds. Taken daily, flax seeds can help improve immunity thanks to their anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory emollient properties along with laxative effect. Many studies have shown that flaxseeds contain a mechanism that can block the production of hormone based tumors. This property also makes it beneficial for women’s health as it maintains estrogen levels and alleviates menstrual cramps.
5. Bodybuilders use them too!
Bodybuilders eat flax seeds to reduce body fat, gain muscle and enhance performance by reducing the recovery time. Flax seeds are such a wonderful source of energy that they reduce the soreness of muscles quickly and increase utilization of oxygen and other nutrients.
6. Prevent depression
Omega 3 and Omega 6 imbalance can lead to depression. Flax seeds are a rich source of Omega 3 which is brain food. They help balance the ratio of Omega 3 and 6 and protect brain health.
7. Flax seeds are good for your joints
Arthritis patients can benefit greatly from flax seeds as they improve joint motility, reduce morning stiffness and tenderness of joints. They can also reduce patient’s dependence on pain medication.
8. Asthmatics can benefit from flax seeds
The anti-inflammatory lignans and other antioxidant compounds prevent inflammation of the lungs which can help asthamatic patients breathe easier.
9. Strengthen immunity and ward off illnesses
Ancient Egyptians were known to cultivate flax seeds for their health and beauty benefits as well as for disease fighting. Flax seeds and their oil can be used to treat a wide range of issues like: Tendonitis, Candida and yeast, menopause and menstrual issues, low libido, morning sickness etc.
10. Irritable Bowel syndrome
IBS sufferers can greatly benefit from flax seed’s inflammation fighting properties as they help reduce bowel irritation. However, one needs to be caution: the high fiber content of flax seeds can lead to frequent bowel movements and could irritate the intestinal lining.
11. Great for your hair and skin
Taking flaxseeds oil can give you shinier, healthier hair and also get rid of dandruff and other issues. Likewise, dry skin, roasacea, eczema, psoriasis or acne sufferers can also benefit from regular intake of flaxseeds.
12. Food for the eyes
Flax seeds help delay age related decline of vision and can also help improve color perception.
13. Prevents heart disease
A heart healthy diet is one that is rich in high amounts of mono and poly unsaturated fats and low in trans fats and saturated fats. Omega 3 essential fatty acids in flax seeds are known to increase good cholesterol and promote healthy blood vessels. Regular intake can also decrease inflammation and reduce risk of blood clotting and arrhythmia.
14. Support men’s health
Men can benefit greatly from regular consumption of Flax seeds thanks to their phytoestrogen content. This can block the over production of hormone estrogen within the fat cells which results from weight gain. Flax seeds can also block DHT production that leads to baldness and other skin and hair problems. Prostate health can also be improved with regular intake.
15. Great alternative to fish oil
Many people (vegans and vegetarians especially) cannot tolerate fish oil due to the fishy burps. Flax seed oil and ground flax seeds are a great alternative to this. The reason behind the popularity of fish oil is thanks to its Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA) content. Flaxseeds are known to contain 300 mg of EPA and DHA more per 1 gram of fish oil.
Other benefits of include: controlling of blood sugar levels and lipid profile levels, reduction of urinary tract infections, prevention of allergies, headaches, boils, ADHD and bipolar disorders, ulcerative colitis, sore throat and skin issues like eczema, suppression and loosening of mucus, treatment of burns (when used as a poultice), and many more.
Side effects of flaxseeds and dosage
Anything in excess is bad and same is true with flaxseeds. Side effects of flaxseeds are generally mild. Fiber overload is an issue since the seeds have a mild laxative action that could lead to loose stools or diarrhea. Cramps are another side effect in some patients. However, these effects are known to usually go away within a couple of days. Generally speaking, the dosage is up to 2 tablespoons per day but no adverse effects have been seen even with dosages as high as 6 tablespoons.
How to eat flax seeds?
Flax seeds taste great on oatmeal, yogurt, granola and morning cereals and smoothies. You can also bake them in your bread, muffins and scones for added nutrition. It is best to grind them before intake in order to release their oils. Grinding also increases the availability of the nutrients present in flax seeds.