The Need for Flaxseed


May / June 2016

By Darlene Staheli

Is flaxseed a super hero? Does it have super powers? Well, it can’t leap over tall buildings nor is it faster than a speeding bullet, but it can help save you from hot flashes, cravings, constipation, inflammation, cancer and many more ‘kryptonite’-like ailments! Flaxseed can have super powerful effects on your body when just a small amount (a couple of tablespoons per day) is added to your diet. Let’s take a closer look:

Lignans: Flaxseeds contain an antioxidant called lignan. Lignans reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals, slow aging process and increase overall wellness. Flaxseed contains up to 800 times more lignans than other plant sources. Lignans are especially important for:

• Anti cancer, anti viral effects

• Cardio protection

• Improving blood sugar

• Reducing inflammation

• Protecting against osteoporosis

• Improving cognitive function

• Reducing hot flashes and breast pain in menopausal women

• Reducing the risk of uterine fibroids in middle aged women

• Reducing the risk of breast cancer

• Reducing the risk of prostate cancer

• Protecting against diabetes

Fiber: With all the difficult to digest, processed and animal based foods that are consumed, we need help! Most Americans are unaware of how much fiber they need in their diets and are unsure where to get it. In general, men need between 30-50 grams per day, women 25-45 grams per day and flax can help you get there. Each tablespoon of flax contains about 2.2 grams of fiber loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber. A few benefits of fiber include:

• Helps maintain bowel health

• Lowers cholesterol

• Balances blood sugar

• Reduces blood pressure

• Reduces inflammation

• Weight loss

Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA): Flaxseeds are full of the omega-3 fatty acids, which are greatly missing in most diets. ALA-rich flaxseed can help lower the risk of chronic diseases and can help maintain wellness by:

• Repairing damaged cells

• Producing healthy radiant skin

• Maintaining the nervous system

• Reducing inflammation, which plays a major role in arthritis, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, Cancer, Alzheimer Disease, etc.

Flaxseed comes in “whole,” “ground,” and “oil” forms. Whole flaxseed passes right through us and offers little benefit. Flaxseed oil has no fiber, and often has no lignans. Ground flaxseed is the real superhero. When it’s ground, our bodies can utilize and absorb all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Flaxseed has a very mild flavor and can easily be added to meals and snacks. Here are a few suggestions:

• Add a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to a bowl of breakfast cereal, hot or cold.

• Add a couple of tablespoons to a healthy smoothie.

• Use it to thicken sauces, soups and dressings (it automatically thickens when added to liquid).

• Sprinkle it on top of a salad, or even a sandwich.

• Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water as a fantastic egg substitute in baked goods and pancakes.