Health Benefits of Flaxseed
The health benefits of flaxseed have made it a part of the traditional cuisines of Asia, America, and Africa. Its high nutritional and health benefits can outnumber those offered by any other cereal. It is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans. These components collectively fight many ailments and diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, arthritis, allergies, asthma, and diabetes.
Flaxseed also reduces the risk of various cancers and improves reproductive health in females. It is also a rich source of vitamins and fiber, which keeps the heart and the intestines healthy. It also maintains healthy eyes, skin, and hair.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
Some of the health benefits of flaxseed can improve the quality of your diet. Below are some of the known benefits of flaxseed:
Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals: Flaxseed is rich in most B complex vitamins and vitamin E, as well as minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin and bones. Potassium maintains nerve health and iron is a vital component of red blood cells and many enzymes that affect our general metabolism.
Good Source of Proteins: Flaxseed is a rich source of dietary proteins, having a high essential amino acid index and providing most of the daily intake of proteins that our bodies need.
Rich in Flavonoids: Flaxseed is a good source of flavonoids, especially flavone-C and o-glycosides, according to “Phytochemicals and Phytopharmaceuticals”. These polyphenolic compounds inhibit lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation, and capillary permeability and fragility, thus leading to a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Flaxseed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, second only to fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acid is the most active agent that fights inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a leading cause of heart diseases, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and even certain cancers.
Rich in Fiber: Flaxseed is rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble types. While soluble fiber helps to maintain proper gastrointestinal functions, insoluble fiber plays a vital role in keeping the heart healthy by lowering serum LDL cholesterol levels. This property of flaxseed also aids in maintaining normal blood sugar levels for people suffering from diabetes.
Presence of Phytochemicals: There are abundant phytochemicals in flaxseed that act as antioxidants, which are the main agents in preventing and fighting against cancer. Also, flaxseed is a rich source of lignans, which convert into chemicals that balance female hormones in the body. There is evidence that lignans aid reproductive health, prevent menopausal symptoms, and counter the effects of type-2 diabetes.
Boosts Immunity: The alpha linolenic acid and the lignans found in flaxseed boost the immune response in the body and prevent against inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and the autoimmune disorder lupus.
Beneficial for Dieters: Flaxseed forms an essential part of many diet programmes, since it keeps blood sugar levels in check. Due to its richness in fiber, it keeps the stomach full and avoids the intake of surplus calories through overeating.
Decreases Pre-Menopausal Symptoms: One of flaxseed’s essential components, lignans, can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy due to their estrogenic properties.
Prevents Osteoporosis and Cardiovascular Diseases: Due to its estrogenic properties, the lignans in flaxseed reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases in menopausal women.
Ovarian Health: In menstruating women, regular consumption of flaxseed is shown to inhibit cycle changes and a reduction in ovarian dysfunction.
Prevents Cancer: Omega-3 fatty acids have been proved to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer according to the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
Maintains Eye Health: Flaxseed consumption can reduce “dry eye” syndrome. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of macular degeneration, an eye disease caused by damaged nerves in the eye.
Maintains Kidney Health: Flaxseed has been shown to reduce the rate of kidney inflammation in cases of nephritis.
Effective Against Skin Disorders: Flaxseed oil can heal inflamed skin areas in cases of acne, rosacea and eczema. The topical application of flaxseed oil results in an increased rate of healing for sunburns.
Nourishes Hair and Nails: Flaxseed oil can treat brittle hair and nails and prevent them from splitting. It is also effective against irritating scalp conditions caused by eczema.
This sums up some of the myriad health benefits of flaxseed consumption. Care should be taken to consume ground flaxseed to enjoy all of the benefits, since whole seeds don’t release the nutrients effectively.
References: Nutrition and Cancer