Though small in size, flaxseed packs a big, powerful punch.
“Size doesn’t matter.” You’ve heard this saying over and over, and when it comes to the flax seed, it’s absolutely true. Derived from the flax plant, flaxseed may be the size of small sunflower seeds, but it is jam packed with disease- and cancer-fighting ingredients.
What should you know about this sizeable health food?
The flax plant has been around for centuries. In fact, according to the Flax Council of Canada, flaxseed was grown in ancient Babylon around 3000 B.C. (If you’re doing the math, that was 5,000 years ago.) Fast-forward to the eighth century. King Charlemagne was so convinced of the health benefits of flaxseed that he decreed laws requiring the people to eat it. Talk about someone loving flaxseed! Today, 13 centuries later, researchers suspect the king of flaxseed may have been on to something.
Now grown throughout the northwestern United States and Canada, flaxseed is found in numerous foods, supplements, and animal food. Due to rising consumer demands in the U.S. and Canada, nearly 300 new products were produced containing flaxseed in 2010 alone!
So what is it that turned King Charlemagne onto flaxseed, and why is it now one of the must-have health foods for people across the globe? Flaxseed’s power comes through many ingredients, including the following powerhouses of good health:
Omega-3 fatty acids: Typically thought of as a nutrient found in fish, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to improve heart health and are thought to decrease symptoms of an array of conditions, including depression and arthritis. To make your need of these acids even more obvious, they cannot be produced by the body, so they have to be consumed via foods like flaxseed.
Lignans: Unfamiliar with lignans? Not for long. When consumed, flaxseed becomes broken down into lignans, a chemical that mirrors estrogen. How effective is the imitation? It’s so successful that lignans may actually distract cancer cells, ultimately helping physicians slow down the progression and speed of breast and other cancers.
Fiber: While omega-3 fatty acids and lignans are particularly helpful for preventing dangerous and deadly diseases, fiber is helpful in all stages of life and health, as it helps regulate your bowels. Of course, fiber is also helpful in reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, so you get a double helping of health with fiber.
If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, you’ve probably seen flaxseed for sale. While some eat it straight, there are many ways to add it into your diet. Toss a tablespoon of it on your cereal in the morning, bake it into your favorite recipe, or add a little bit in a cup of yogurt. Regardless of how you get your flaxseed, getting a little bit each day is a great way to improve your overall health today and tomorrow!
Not sweating heart disease, diabetes, or constipation? Flaxseed’s benefits don’t end there. If you’re struggling with breast pain or hot flashes, a teaspoon or two of flaxseed each day may help you regain your good health.
Excited as you may be about adding flaxseed to your diet, you need to do it properly for optimum benefit. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to add some flaxseed to your daily routine.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume ground flaxseed.
- Drink plenty of water when taking flaxseed as a supplement.
- Consult your physician when taking a flaxseed supplement.
- Check with your physician or pharmacist to ensure your flaxseed supplement won’t prevent other medications from being absorbed by your body.
- Ground flaxseed is typically recommended if it is going to be used as a supplement, as whole flaxseed is more likely to pass through your body without being used.