Friday, 5 July 2019

Flax Seeds: Nutritional Health Benefits, Risks, & Recipes

Flaxseeds are one of the healthiest superfoods that have been prized for their amazing health benefits. They are a great source of plant-based protein, anti-inflammatory compounds, omega 3 fatty acids and dietary fibre.
Flaxseeds, also called linseeds, are small, brown-coloured seeds. They are available in the form of seeds, powder, oil, tablets, flour, and capsules. The health benefits of flaxseeds are mostly attributed to their high fibre content, lignans and omega 3 fatty acids.

Nutritional Value Of Flaxseeds

100 g of flaxseeds contain 6.96 g water, 534 kcal energy and they also contain:
  • 18.29 g protein
  • 42.16 g fat
  • 28.88 g carbohydrate
  • 27.3 g fibre
  • 1.55 g sugar
  • 255 mg calcium
  • 5.73 mg iron
  • 392 mg magnesium
  • 642 mg phosphorus
  • 813 mg potassium
  • 30 mg sodium
  • 4.34 mg zinc
  • 0.6 mg vitamin C
  • 1.644 mg thiamine
  • 0.161 mg riboflavin
  • 3.080 mg niacin
  • 0.473 mg vitamin B6
  • 87 mcg folate
  • 0.31 mg vitamin E
  • 4.3 mcg vitamin K
flax seeds nutrition

Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds

1. Lower cancer risk

Flaxseeds contain lignans, a phytochemical that has antioxidant and oestrogen properties, both of which can help reduce the risk of cancer [1] . Another study showed that flaxseeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant-based foods [2] . 

2. Keep the heart healthy

Flaxseeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and phytosterols that aid in boosting heart health. Eating flaxseeds will help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, reduce inflammation in the arteries and lower tumour growth [3] .

3. Prevent constipation

Flaxseeds contain two types of dietary fibre - soluble and insoluble. The bacteria in the gut ferment the fibre which bulks up stool and helps in regular bowel movement [4] . On the other hand, insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water or gastrointestinal fluids and remain intact as it moves through the digestive tract, resulting in softer stool which is helpful in preventing constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
4. Manage diabetes
The plant compounds found in flaxseeds decrease blood sugar levels. A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that, consumption of flaxseeds caused a significant drop in insulin resistance and improved insulin sensitivity [5] .

5. Helps in weight loss

Flaxseeds are low in carbohydrates and high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. These support colon detoxification, aid in fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. The soluble fibre slows down the digestion process and provides a feeling of fullness [6] .

6. Lower blood pressure levels

Flaxseeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, and lignans that have antihypertensive effects, according to a study [7] . Another study published in Clinical Nutrition found that flaxseeds decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure [8] .

7. Decrease menopause symptoms

The lignans in flaxseed have been shown to benefit women with menopause. A study showed that flaxseeds can help reduce the severity of hot flashes in women who aren't using oestrogen therapy during menopause [9] . Flaxseeds can also prevent the risk of osteoporosis in menstruating women.

8. Enhance skin and hair health

Flaxseeds contain omega 3 fatty acids which benefit the skin and hair by reducing dryness, acne, eczema and hair breakage. Flaxseed oil extracted from flaxseeds is great for your skin, eyes, nails, and hair. 

Whole Flaxseeds Vs Ground Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are best consumed ground, because your body can't access all the nutrients inside the seeds if they are eaten whole.

Side Effects Of Consuming Excess Flaxseeds

  • Bloating and gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
Pregnant women should avoid taking flaxseeds because they contain phytoestrogens. In addition, the fibre content in flaxseeds may interact with certain medications.

Ways To Add Flaxseeds In Your Diet

  • Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal.
  • Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds to your sandwich spread.
  • Add ground flaxseeds into muffins, breads, cookies, and baked goods.
  • Drizzle flaxseed oil in your salad dressing.
  • Mix ground flaxseeds into smoothies.
Note: Flaxseeds should always be eaten with some water or fluid.

How Much Flaxseeds To Eat Per Day

Eating 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds is advisable.

Flaxseeds Recipes

Flaxseeds smoothie [10]

  • 2 tbsp flaxseeds
  • 1 cup flavoured soya milk
  • ½ cup chopped bananas
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Pour into glasses and serve.

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